A sweeping chronology of human deafness fortified with the author’s personal struggles and triumphs.

HEARING HAPPINESS

DEAFNESS CURES IN HISTORY

A well-rounded history of deafness and its associated pseudo-curative “quackery.”

In an effective amalgam of research and memoir, Virdi astutely traces hearing loss treatments and attitudes from the mid-1800s through the modern era. She also incorporates her personal struggles with deafness throughout her life, which lends the narrative a sense of depth and intimacy beyond the more clinical analysis. The author describes how she became gravely ill with nearly fatal bacterial meningitis at age 4 while her family was living in Kuwait. The illness rendered her deaf. For Virdi, the physical, social, and cultural struggles of being deaf became a strange new world populated by clunky analog hearing aids and stigmatized labeling. Being initially misclassified as hearing-impaired instead of profoundly deaf, Virdi experienced struggles with identity formation throughout her early years and into young adulthood. Digging into archival histories, the author explores the early use of restorative diets, acoustic instrumentation such as ear trumpets, artificial eardrums (“an attractive alternative to awkward and bulky acoustic aids”), and other ostensible treatments, including many unconventional, usually ineffective “cure-all” therapies. The text advances onward to more progressive technology like custom-fit hearing aids and cochlear implants, which provided helpful treatment even as hoax cures continued to proliferate. The author is most engaging when she graphically illustrates these oddly fascinating medical and technological treatments administered to hearing-impaired patients. Even readers with a casual interest in audiology and the cloaked cultural strictures of audism will find Virdi’s meticulous research and honest evaluation commendable; some may even wish for more of the author’s journey. Her multifaceted narrative offers both a personal and historical perspective on the plight of the deaf and how modern technological advancements usher in new possibilities. Virdi enhances the text with vintage photos and ads for a variety of products and “fanciful fads.”

A sweeping chronology of human deafness fortified with the author’s personal struggles and triumphs. (b/w illustrations)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-226-69061-2

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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

THE MEATEATER GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SKILLS AND SURVIVAL

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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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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