Worth skimming only if you are struggling to lose weight and considering gastric bypass surgery.

NEVER GOIN' BACK

WINNING THE WEIGHT-LOSS BATTLE FOR GOOD

Beloved TV weatherman Roker (co-author: The Talk Show Murders, 2011, etc.) explains how he went from “morbidly obese” to fit and healthy.

The author seems like a genial man, a devoted father and the possessor of an exciting career that has provided him with plenty of stories to tell. His tale of triumph over a serious weight problem that plagued him since childhood might provide inspiration, or at least comfort, to the millions of Americans who continue to struggle with their own weight. However, the writing is lazy and, at times, downright cringe-worthy; most readers would probably rather not know as much as Roker wishes to share about his sex life, his bowel movements or the size of his penis. Clearly, the author intends to come across as funny and relatable, but too much forced folksiness renders even his best anecdotes flat. His desire to be universally appealing leaches his story of specificity and vitality; he mentions his race a couple of times, but in general, he is so desperate to play the role of an Everyman that he conveys little sense of who he is as a person, beyond the fact that he “loves life, [his] family and good music.” Roker, who wasn't born rich, is now a wealthy man, and many of his well-meant suggestions betray the cluelessness that often results from becoming accustomed to having money. Among other things, Roker advises those who undergo gastric bypass surgery, as he did, to hire a home health care aide for the first two weeks after the operation. Given that such care is unaffordable for millions, this is a “great tip” of limited value.

Worth skimming only if you are struggling to lose weight and considering gastric bypass surgery.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-451-41493-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: NAL/Berkley

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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