Deft questioning of our basic assumptions about health, disease, and medicine. Golub, director of the Pacific Center for Ethics and Applied Biology, asserts that throughout most of human history little changed in the way health and sickness were regarded. From 500 bc to about ad 1850, people believed that health depended on the body's being in balance—and the general level of health was pretty dreadful, with sickness and early death being omnipresent. In the 19th century, however, science began to reframe thinking about health and disease. Indeed, Golub claims that the major contributions science has made to our lives are in changing our view of ourselves, how medicine is practiced, and what we expect from medicine. Through myth-shattering stories about standard heroes and praise for some lesser-known figures, Golub recounts how the authority of science was brought to medicine by Pasteur, Lister, and others whose work contributed to the soaring popular faith in scientific medicine. Once diseases were seen as having specific causes, the course was clear: determine the cause and then develop a vaccine to prevent the disease or a chemical to cure it. This concept of specificity still prevails, according to Golub. But it does not serve us well in an era of complex chronic diseases and the degenerative conditions of old age. Golub cautions against reliance on costly high-tech solutions, especially gene therapy, warning that the complexity of biology calls for more innovative and integrative approaches. Finally, he urges serious rethinking of what we want from medicine and argues that we should view aging and dying as an integral part of life rather than as the Great Enemy of medicine. Highly enjoyable as a brief and opinionated history of medicine, but more valuable as a provocative essay on the direction in which science and technology are moving medicine today. (15 line drawings, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8129-2141-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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