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 29, 2020

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


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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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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