A vigorous and memorable primer on heightening awareness to prevent or counter danger.

SPOTTING DANGER BEFORE IT SPOTS YOU

BUILD SITUATIONAL AWARENESS TO STAY SAFE

A federal air marshal offers a guide to observing and evaluating your surroundings.

Quesenberry’s nonfiction debut draws on his 19 years of experience as an air marshal, a job that gives him “a first-class ticket into the world of covert surveillance, surveillance detection, and self-defense.” In hundreds of settings, he has been the person paid and expected to know what’s going on and to anticipate and counter any potential dangers. By contrast, as he quite rightly points out, most people relax themselves into a false sense of security by thinking “nothing will ever happen here” or “that would never happen to me.” But even the author’s cursory listing of some of the 21st century’s worst outbreaks of terrorist violence all over the world should make it clear to readers that they can no longer afford such attitudes—they must take a large part of their safety into their own hands. Quesenberry’s aim in his book is not only to change those attitudes, but also to arm readers with the basic perception shifts that will help them guard their own well-being. The foremost of these is “situational awareness,” which the author describes as “the ability to identify and process environmental cues to accurately predict the actions of others.” The adverb is crucial: Readers are gently admonished to discard their reflexive prejudices and assumptions and “identify and process” what they’re actually seeing in any environment (as the author points out, preset perceptions can sometimes blind a person to reality). In quick, sharply paced chapters full of well-chosen anecdotes and bulleted points, Quesenberry instructs readers on how to expand their awareness of the people and things in their immediate area, how to assume an aggressive mindset in order to anticipate how actual predators think, and even the basics of one-on-one self-defense. Much of what the author relates is elementary in nature—travel advisories all over the world urge some variation of situational awareness—but the clarity of this manual makes it stand out.

A vigorous and memorable primer on heightening awareness to prevent or counter danger.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59439-737-0

Page Count: 220

Publisher: YMAA Publication Center

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS

NBA legends Bird and Johnson, fierce rivals during their playing days, team up on a mutual career retrospective.

With megastars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and international superstars like China’s Yao Ming pushing it to ever-greater heights of popularity today, it’s difficult to imagine the NBA in 1979, when financial problems, drug scandals and racial issues threatened to destroy the fledgling league. Fortunately, that year marked the coming of two young saviors—one a flashy, charismatic African-American and the other a cocky, blond, self-described “hick.” Arriving fresh off a showdown in the NCAA championship game in which Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores—still the highest-rated college basketball game ever—the duo changed the course of history not just for the league, but the sport itself. While the pair’s on-court accomplishments have been exhaustively chronicled, the narrative hook here is unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration. This snapshot of their respective careers delves with varying degrees of depth into the lives of each man and their on- and off-court achievements, including the historic championship games between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, their trailblazing endorsement deals and Johnson’s stunning announcement in 1991 that he had tested positive for HIV. Ironically, this nostalgic chronicle about the two men who, along with Michael Jordan, turned more fans onto NBA basketball than any other players, will likely appeal primarily to a narrow cross-section of readers: Bird/Magic fans and hardcore hoop-heads.

Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-547-22547-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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