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TOTAL GARBAGE

HOW WE CAN FIX OUR WASTE AND HEAL OUR WORLD

An engrossing, practical guide to living healthier, less improvident lives and benefiting the planet by doing so.

Compelling stories of people working successfully to rein in America’s wasteful habits.

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Humes, author of Garbology, documents various initiatives to reduce, recycle, and reengineer harmful products, from food containers to gas-fired building furnaces. “We have unwittingly become,” he asserts, “the most wasteful civilization in history,” with the average American responsible for 1.5 tons of garbage each year. Waste occurs when we produce inefficiently and send the excess of what we have purchased to landfills. Humes is particularly concerned with the plastic waste—“400 million tons per year”—attendant to food packaging, disposable bottles, and the synthetics woven into our clothing. He considers “fashion waste,” food waste, and the energy waste generated by the internal combustion engine. For each type of waste, the author notes the work of activists who have developed innovative ways to combat our profligacy—e.g., Jamiah Hargins, who started Crop Swap LA to replace resource-intensive and chemical-laden grass lawns with micro-farms; environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck, who made plastic food packaging a public policy issue; and Amory Lovins, who launched a revolution in energy-saving passive house design. Humes highlights the work of universities that have committed to sustainability and Peachtree City, Georgia, where electric carts are a dominant form of transportation. He discusses how energy-reduction technologies—such as induction cooktops, heat pumps, electric vehicles, and LED lighting—can help readers live less wasteful lives and stop damaging the environment. Humes believes strongly in healthy living, sustainable transportation, and a circular economy that recycles what it produces. His enthusiastic advocacy, attention to personal choices, and supportive data that seem beyond dispute make this a convincing argument and an informative book.

An engrossing, practical guide to living healthier, less improvident lives and benefiting the planet by doing so.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593543368

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avery

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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THE DEVIL'S BEST TRICK

HOW THE FACE OF EVIL DISAPPEARED

A compelling journey into the heart of darkness with an articulate, capable guide.

An investigation of evil and how it manifests in our society.

As an acclaimed journalist, Sullivan, author of Graveyard of the Pacific, Dead Wrong, and other books, thought of himself as a man of reason and intelligence, with a good dose of cynicism. Then, when covering the wars that tore apart Yugoslavia, he confronted too many atrocities to believe that nothing was behind them. The author sensed the presence of evil and began to research the origin of it, which led him to the fundamental figure of malignity. While researching the book, Sullivan brushed against inexplicable, personal incidents—e.g., a weird threat from a well-dressed stranger, an ominous letter in his mailbox, the dream image of a black dog. The author shows how Christianity gave the Devil a personification, a central role, and a name. Sullivan looks at the theologians who wrestled with the conflict between the persistence of evil and the presence of an omnipotent God, finding that none of them reached a satisfying conclusion. He also studies a number of serial killers and murders, as well as accounts of a carefully documented, nightmarish exorcism that lasted four months in Iowa in 1928. Yet somehow, writes Sullivan, the Devil has been able to convince everyone that he does not exist, so is “able to hide in plain sight because of the cover we all give him with our fear, our denial, our rationalization, [and] our deluded sense of enlightenment.” The author believes that the Devil is real, but, he adds, each of us is responsible for our own decisions. This is not an easy book to read, and some parts are profoundly disturbing. Sullivan offers crucial insights, but timid readers should think carefully before entering its dark labyrinth.

A compelling journey into the heart of darkness with an articulate, capable guide.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9780802119131

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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