A must-read for avid gardeners, those interested in bolstering our precarious food supply, or anyone remotely concerned...

THE HIDDEN HALF OF NATURE

THE MICROBIAL ROOTS OF LIFE AND HEALTH

A geologist and a biologist and environmental planner chronicle the transformation of their desolate Seattle backyard into a fertile garden and how they learned about the importance of beneficial microbes in their newly revived soil.

With lively and accessible prose, Montgomery (The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood, 2013, etc.) and Biklé lay the foundation for their narrative with a discussion about microbes: what they are as well as their remarkable adaptability and diversity and the role they play in the natural environment—e.g., making half the world’s oxygen. The authors lead readers through an eye-opening history of well-known individuals involved with the fascinating work of ferreting out the mysterious lives of these little critters, such as Louis Pasteur, and many others less well known to the nonscientific community. The authors’ blending of science and history, combined with personal insights, keeps the balanced narrative moving at a rapid pace. Montgomery and Biklé also deftly integrate the dark story of American agriculture’s co-option by the chemical industry. Attempting to solve the biological problem of low soil fertility with herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, corporations created a cycle of demand requiring farmers use more chemicals. The result has been depleted soil with fewer microbes and an unsustainable food production system. The authors explore the overuse of antibiotics and their effect on the human biome, livestock, and infectious diseases. Biklé describes her bout with cancer and the resulting changes she made to her garden and dietary habits. The authors ably help lay readers knit together the multiple threads of this complex and intriguing story, and a glossary provides a solid a foundation when grappling with unfamiliar terms such as “commensal” or dysbiosis.”

A must-read for avid gardeners, those interested in bolstering our precarious food supply, or anyone remotely concerned about their health and the soil under their feet.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24440-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

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

Did you like this book?

more