An urgent wake-up call about the hidden dangers of fad diets.




In this debut guide for physicians, a medical doctor argues that saturated fat is killing people and that health care workers aren’t doing enough to educate patients about its dangers. 

Trendy diet plans, such as the ketogenic and Atkins diets, have promised to help people shed pounds while loading up their plates with steak, butter, and cheese. But there’s a problem, argues Allen, a family practitioner and a member of the American Board of Obesity Medicine: An overwhelming body of scientific evidence indicates that a diet high in saturated fat raises bad low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, and can lead to serious ailments, including Type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and gout. However, through a combination of clever marketing and faulty studies, Allen asserts, the food industry has “worked hard to distort the truth,” convincing people that foods such as eggs and coconut oil are unambiguously healthy. Popular diet gurus and news media willing to report the results of any scientific study don’t help, but doctors share a big part of the blame, he says. They can help by not only talking frankly to patients about their diet, but also modeling good behavior: “As healers, our disdain for saturated fat needs to be nearly as pervasive and persistent as our contempt for cigarette smoking,” Allen writes. Some readers won’t want to hear the author’s blunt message that everyone should limit their saturated fat intake to 6% of their daily calories. (He cites a 2017 American Heart Association study that lists the current average for Americans as nearly 12%.) A vegan himself, Allen cites a mountain of evidence that significantly cutting back on animal products and eating more fruits, vegetables, and grains is better for long-term health—and that evidence is indeed persuasive. He also clearly highlights flaws in research that purports to show the benefits of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Vivid examples, such as a discussion of the heart attack that killed Emmy- and Golden Globe–winning actor James Gandolfini, effectively drive the author’s point home. Although this book is written for other doctors, its no-nonsense, conversational style will make it equally accessible to readers who aren’t medical professionals. 

An urgent wake-up call about the hidden dangers of fad diets.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5445-0336-3

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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