A highly compelling—and alarming—memoir.



Searching for new drugs in old folkways.

Ethnobotanist and microbiologist Quave, a professor and herbarium curator at Emory, shares a fascinating account of her development as a scientist, her research into the pharmacological potential of plants used in traditional medicine, the challenge of balancing work with motherhood, and her lifelong struggle with disability and infection. Born with a congenital defect that left her right leg underdeveloped—the fibula was “totally missing”—Quave had her leg amputated below the knee when she was 3, resulting in a staph infection that would have killed her if not for antibiotics. As she grew up, she required 20 more surgeries and often was hospitalized with infections. Her health problems made her acutely aware of the power of antibiotics and the peril of bacterial resistance. “We’re facing a double crisis in the battle against superbugs,” she writes, “the loss of effective antibiotics and the cataclysmic failure of the economic model that supports their discovery and development.” Despite being physically compromised, Quave has mounted research expeditions to rugged, biodiverse hot spots around the world in search of some of the 33,443 plant species used in medicine; of these, she notes, no more than a few hundred have been rigorously investigated. The author details the painstaking process of gathering, transporting, preparing, and analyzing plant samples to test whether or not ethnobotanical research actually could lead to discovery of drugs. She also describes the arduous competition for grant money, where being a woman often put her at a disadvantage. Throughout her career, Quave has encountered bullying, sexism, and outright sexual harassment, and her scientific accomplishments have been undervalued. Science, she notes with regret, has become a “blood sport” among powerful men. Without generous funding for research into superbugs and infectious diseases, Quave warns, humans will find themselves increasingly at the mercy of viruses and bacteria they cannot control.

A highly compelling—and alarming—memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984879-11-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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