For Chopra fans only—as such, likely to become a best-seller.

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SUPER BRAIN

UNLEASHING THE EXPLOSIVE POWER OF YOUR MIND TO MAXIMIZE HEALTH, HAPPINESS, AND SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING

A mixture of recent research in the neurosciences and spiritual wisdom passed down through generations.

With his dozens of best-selling books, Chopra (co-author: War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality, 2011, etc.) has arguably done more than anyone to bring Eastern spirituality and healing practices to the West. His oeuvre brings to mind an inebriated dart player in a tavern—many attempts go wild, but when he connects, you're convinced he's a natural. This book, co-authored with Alzheimer’s Genome Project head Tanzi (Neurology/Harvard Medical School; co-author: Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer's Disease, 2001, etc.), continues the trend of laying Eastern thought over Western science. This "tag team" author approach lends credibility to the less scientifically rigorous ideas Chopra has to offer, but with varying degrees of success. The plasticity of the young brain and the rate at which new synapse connections are made in children; the importance of regular physical activity and exercise; the idea that instincts and emotions are integral and necessary to social relations—these scientific propositions, as they're laid out, won’t strike readers as either controversial or revolutionary. The authors theorize about connections between neuroscience and long-held beliefs about the mind, and many of these connections don’t require a leap of faith to accept as valid hypotheses. The lion's share of the text, however, consists of platitudes and value judgments about happiness and success that can't really be held forth as a prescription for the "next leap in the human brain's evolution." Examples include such statements as, "Mind, not the brain, is the origin of consciousness," and the suggestions that an abused wife should “stop exposing herself to stresses that occur over and over.”

For Chopra fans only—as such, likely to become a best-seller.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-95682-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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