THE CASE FOR KETO

RETHINKING WEIGHT CONTROL AND THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF LOW-CARB/HIGH-FAT EATING

Solid science and energetic writing make the author’s bitter pill easier to swallow.

Want to lose weight? Then eat lots of meat, the much-vaunted ancestral diet. “This book is a work of journalism masquerading as a self-help book,” writes science and nutrition journalist Taubes at the outset, explaining that he does not concern himself with specific recipes so much as nutritional science. For some people, a diet of grains and tubers is fine, but for most of us, specific categories of food—particularly carbohydrates—create a “hormonal milieu” in the body that serves to trap calories in the form of fat for later use rather than burning them off as fuel in the short term. The caloric equivalent of a single almond per day is enough to foster a 50-pound weight gain over a couple of decades, which means that a diet that eschews carbohydrates is the only way the heavy among us are ever going to lose weight. Taubes examines the history of obesity and responses to it, from its being characterized as the product of a mental disorder to the counsel of “almost invariably lean people” that the trick is simply not to eat so much. Instead, because people are metabolically different from one another, one person can eat exactly the same food in exactly the same quantity as another, and one will gain weight and the other not. The deeper science concerns how the body produces and uses insulin; “eating less and exercising…can be inefficient ways of lowering insulin levels,” writes the author. Instead, only a keto diet will do, keto meaning ketosis, the burning of fat as fuel. Moderation doesn’t work for most people, argues Taubes: It’s an all-or-nothing commitment to eating meat, some cheese, and cruciferous vegetables—and no sugary foods, beans, spaghetti, and the like, a diet that, for some people, would make life not worth living. Solid science and energetic writing make the author’s bitter pill easier to swallow.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52006-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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