A remarkably thorough and always sensible study.



Health care attorney Nelson (From ObamaCare to TrumpCare, 2017) provides an in-depth historical and analytical overview of the opioid crisis in America and suggests wide-ranging solutions. 

For decades, the United States has been ravaged by opioid addiction—a problem that’s escalated to epidemic proportions. Nelson traces its historical arc from the late 19th century through the passage of significant legislation, such as the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914, and the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973. The author goes on to present a synoptic account of the problem’s growth in the 1990s, when OxyContin and fentanyl became the most popular opioids, and how inadequate responses from law enforcement, physicians, and the pharmacological industry only exacerbated the crisis. The author asserts that a new emphasis on the treatment of pain, dubbed the “fifth vital sign,” contributed to systemic failures into the present day, as did the insurance industry’s preference for cheaper (though more addictive) drugs and a woeful lack of knowledge and training on the parts of physicians. Nelson also lays blame on what he sees as an overall moral diminishment in America: “We cannot fully address the opioid crisis without seeking to understand this broader crisis of human suffering—the byproduct of a culture of chronic stress, trauma, and increasing isolation as a result of technology and the erosion of social support in our communities.” The author insightfully articulates a plan of reform—“seven pillars” of public health that include establishing outreach and prevention programs, providing more access to addiction treatment, and developing stronger law enforcement responses to the opioid black market. Nelson has a quarter-century of experience as a health care lawyer, and his extraordinary expertise in on full display here. Over the course of his book, he refreshingly furnishes a kaleidoscopic account of the many causes of the opioid crisis rather than launching a political jeremiad that demonizes a particular group. Along the way, he consistently delves into complex matters with sensitivity. This tendency is particularly evident in his discussion of the virtues and vices of cannabis. 

A remarkably thorough and always sensible study.

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946633-32-3

Page Count: 347

Publisher: ForbesBooks

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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