A useful and sober evaluation of the changing situation in the Gulf of Maine.



An environmental work explores the way pollution has altered the waters off Maine.

The Gulf of Maine is a robust and vital environment, home to some of the world’s most productive fisheries. This biodiversity—and the economies that are sustained by it—is increasingly threatened by the plastics, chemicals, and other eco-toxins present in the Gulf’s waters. These pollutants, along with rising ocean temperatures, acidification, invasive pathogens, and unsustainable fishing practices, are coming together to pose an existential threat to the ecology of the Gulf and neighboring habitats. With this book, Brack seeks to diagnose these problems and describe their particular impacts on the health of the region. After a discussion of the history of cataclysmic climate change on the global scale—since, as the author points out, “any commentary on the ecology and biodiversity of the Gulf of Maine must begin with the observation that this bioregion is only one small component of an interconnected finite biosphere”—he sets his sights on the Gulf itself, including its geography, hydrology, biology, and the effects of both human commerce and regulation. He concludes by enumerating the specific threats that exist for Maine fisheries, many of which cannot be solved outside of addressing the global climate crisis. This is a technical work, and Brack’s prose is suited for its purpose: “It’s also important to note the role the diadromous fisheries played in the early economy of Maine fisheries. Diadromous fish are those species that migrate between the sea and freshwater environments.” The text features maps, charts, and graphs displaying information on fish landings, catch limits, invasive species, water cycles, and other relevant data. The author offers few solutions—indeed, there are few local fixes for a globalized crisis—but he does a fine job laying out the parameters of the problem and how it may worsen over time. This is not a work that will appeal to average readers, but those with a stake or interest in the ecology or economy of the Gulf of Maine may find the facts contained here helpful, if grim.

A useful and sober evaluation of the changing situation in the Gulf of Maine.

Pub Date: June 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9892678-9-2

Page Count: 289

Publisher: Pennywheel Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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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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An inspiring narrative that will be especially valuable to young people seeking to work for humanitarian causes.


A moving account of a determined young woman’s journey from poverty to humanitarian activism.

Raised by a generous, wise grandmother in Zimbabwe, Nyamayaro came of age in a time of withering heat. “There is no cool or comfortable place to hide,” she writes on the first page of her memoir. “The leaves of the tree are long gone, and with it the shade, burned away by the punishing drought that has descended on our small village.” The ensuing famine meant widespread death, but she was kept from starvation by the ministrations of U.N. aid workers. She was determined to become an aid worker herself. In 2000, at the age of 25, she moved to London, where an Irishwoman she met in a hostel dubbed her “Girl from Africa.” Nyamayaro, who returned the favor by dubbing the woman “Tiny Nose,” didn’t mind the sobriquet: “The fact that I’m African is all that matters, and that is enough. I am after all Mwana Wehvu—a child of the African soil.” Scraping to survive, finally finding work as a janitor, she talked her way into a volunteer position at a humanitarian agency and began to take on projects of increasing importance—e.g., developing responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping her native country and working to help the government of the nation of Georgia to maintain a health insurance program for impoverished communities. Leading a team to combat maternal mortality in childbirth, Nyamayaro became increasingly aware of the scarcity of resources as well as the pervasiveness of gender inequality. “Why is it that despite all the progress made by the women’s rights movement,” she asks, “no country or company or institution in the world can yet claim to have achieved gender equality?” Throughout this memorable account of her impressive life, the author recalls “the central, definitive African value and philosophy of ubuntu: that when we uplift others, we are ourselves uplifted.”

An inspiring narrative that will be especially valuable to young people seeking to work for humanitarian causes.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982113-01-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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