A lively account of how scientists worked for years to tame tuberculosis—only to find the disease rebounding with increased virulence as drug-resistant strains developed and as the emergence of the AIDS virus triggered a surge in deadly TB infections. Ryan (a fellow of the UK's Royal Academy of Physicians), pays homage to the men of science who conquered TB, one of humanity's oldest plagues and a killer of a billion people during the past two centuries alone. He recounts at length and in detail the lives of those whose work led to the discovery of the drugs used to treat TB. We see RenÇ Dubos, for instance, searching diligently for antibiotics among soil microorganisms at N.Y.C.'s Rockefeller Institute while his young wife is dying of TB at a sanitorium miles away, and we watch Gerhard Domagk working doggedly on sulphonamides under horrendous conditions in war-torn Germany and then being forced by the Nazis to turn down the Nobel Prize. Ryan's style often is highly charged: Tuberculosis is ``the greatest killer in history''; scientific discoveries are greeted with ``incandescent excitement''; AIDS is a ``new phantasmagoria of terror.'' Meanwhile, personal tragedies and triumphs make up the first three-quarters of the book, but the real message lies in the finale: Although an entire generation in the West has grown up with little knowledge of, or experience with, TB, the disease is making a comeback, this time as a superbug, resistant to every drug. If action is not taken quickly, the results of the present epidemic will be, in Ryan's words, ``apocalyptic.'' Dramatic, sometimes even melodramatic, writing in the historical parts may heighten the book's appeal to some, but it lessens the credibility of the genuine alarm being sounded in the conclusion. (Twenty-four b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: June 23, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-76380-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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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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