An authoritative, encyclopedic, and illuminating wellness manual.

THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF HEALTH

HOW TO OPTIMIZE WELLNESS WITH A LIFESTYLE CHECKLIST

A physician offers a research-based guide to good health.

This debut by Speidel, a doctor, professor emeritus, and public health expert, is an all-encompassing manual that focuses on “the science that underlies a health-restoring, health-preserving lifestyle and warns against unproven claims.” In a straightforward, unadulterated manner, the author enumerates the “building blocks” of a healthy lifestyle; he covers virtually every aspect in 16 chapters that range from nutrition and weight control to mental health and the prevention of specific diseases. Speidel begins with a useful “Lifestyle Checklist,” describing the various elements of a healthy lifestyle and including a handy, literal checklist of beneficial behaviors, cross-referenced to the book’s subsequent chapters. Each chapter is remarkably comprehensive in scope and detail, providing a wealth of information as well as extensive references to current scientific studies and relevant sources. A nice touch that puts the guide on a more personal level is the occasional sidebar entitled “My Story,” in which Speidel writes anecdotally about some of his own health-related experiences. One good example of the high quality of the volume’s contents is “Optimal Nutrition,” a chapter so thorough that it could easily have been expanded into a separate book. Here, the author addresses the American diet; basic facts about food and nutrition; the risks associated with sugar, carbohydrates, and fats; cholesterol; types of diets and their positive/negative effects; nutrition labels; organic foods; gluten-free items; and more. Many studies are referenced and footnoted, and a “Summary of the essential facts” is appended to the end of this as well as other chapters. Whether it is material on the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the benefits of physical activity, or a look at environmental pollutants and toxins, Speidel takes the same care in clearly presenting unbiased information. He is painstaking and methodical in his coverage of each topic, backing up any claims with research studies; the author even helpfully includes a final chapter that explains how to understand scientific data. While some readers may find the research references overwhelming, most should welcome their veracity. Also notable: The work’s content is exceedingly current (including a section on Covid-19).

An authoritative, encyclopedic, and illuminating wellness manual.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952762-00-0

Page Count: 600

Publisher: JJ Webster Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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