An eye-opening description of scientific transhumanism that may provoke older readers to curse themselves for being born a...

BEYOND HUMAN

HOW CUTTING-EDGE SCIENCE IS EXTENDING OUR LIVES

A fascinating examination of technology that “will radically transform human health and extend our life spans far beyond what most of us have ever dreamed.”

Doctors routinely replace failing joints; machines do the work of the heart, lungs, and kidneys; genetic engineering cures some rare diseases. These are only the beginning, enthusiasts proclaim. Future advances will transform our bodies and extend our lives—and, they add, this is a good thing. This transformation is inevitable, but there are cons as well as pros, emphasizes former American Psychiatric Association director Herold (Stem Cell Wars: Inside Stories from the Frontlines, 2006) in this often dazzling account of life-extension progress that pays equal attention to its significance. About 1,200 people are living with a Total Artificial Heart in place of their own. It requires a 13-pound driver that the patient carries in a backpack connected to two tubes coming out of the abdomen. The longest a recipient has lived with the heart is nearly four years. Implantable lungs and kidneys function in animals, and human tests are in the works. An artificial pancreas (for diabetics) may be on the market in a few years. Gene therapy and pharmacology are moving beyond curing disease into enhancing health and extending life. Nanotechnology and mind-cloning, still laboratory curiosities, will do the same on a massive scale. Herold reminds readers that life expectancy has already doubled since 1850. As longevity depends increasingly on technical changes in the human body, it has produced a fierce debate between advocates of “transhumanism” and opponents who warn that it is an irresistible crutch that will degrade human nature. The author gives both sides equal time but is willing to let matters proceed.

An eye-opening description of scientific transhumanism that may provoke older readers to curse themselves for being born a few decades too early.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-312-37521-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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