High-minded, full of righteous indignation and now-it-can-be-told breathiness, this tract trades in half-baked conspiracy theories.

To be sure, there are odious accounts of Nazi and Japanese wartime medical atrocities and the earlier histories of eugenics and sterilization laws. Other well-publicized medical scandals concern the suicide of a physician who unwittingly drank LSD-laced Cointreau, mentally retarded children subjected to hepatitis experiments at Willowbrook, and more recently the death of a young volunteer in a clinical trial for gene therapy. Not so well known, but credible, are descriptions of government programs to develop interrogation and brainwashing techniques, not to mention various biological, chemical, and radiological WMD. Does anyone really believe that the US is less vigilant in such research than its enemies—or allies, for that matter? But Gulf War syndrome caused by bioweapons perfected by Iraq from mycoplasma bacteria shipped to Iraq by an American biotech company? West Nile virus a trick of Cuban ornithologists, who infected birds migrating to the US, where they would be bitten by mosquitoes and transmit the disease? HIV infection connected to polio or smallpox or hepatitis B vaccines? Or a mycoplasma? Indeed, read Goliszek (Biology/North Carolina A&T State Univ.) and you get a dim view of all vaccines, which seem to routinely cause cancer or brain damage. And a dimmer view of clinical trialists, the FDA, biotech, and drug companies, the latter especially at fault for wanting to regulate the health-supplement industry and for suppressing the “fact” that lack of vitamin C causes heart disease. Having made such charges, the author invariably hedges his bets by saying the jury is still out, while offering scant references for what he has said, which is sometimes just plain wrong. He laments that Phase I clinical trials leave patients believing they will get the experimental drug, for example, but Phase I trials are limited to healthy volunteers, not patients.

Off the deep end.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-30356-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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A quirky wonder of a book.



A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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