A welcome, invigorating user’s manual for the respiratory system.

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BREATH

THE NEW SCIENCE OF A LOST ART

A science journalist takes a measured look at the way we breathe and finds it out of whack.

“No matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny or young or wise we are—none of it will matter unless we are breathing correctly.” So writes Nestor, who, having suffered breathing problems, followed a doctor’s suggestion to take a breathing class. What he found set him on a long chain of discovery into the realms of the most modern science and the most ancient wisdom, leading to this readable treatise on improving the way we breathe. A great many of us could stand to improve. By Nestor’s measure, about half of us are “habitual mouthbreathers,” which leads to all sorts of structural, physical, and medical consequences. Things should be happening in the nose instead, even if “for the past century, the prevailing belief in Western medicine was that the nose was more or less an ancillary organ.” The nose is key, for using it properly can clear up breathing obstructions and militate against the “dysevolution” caused over countless millennia by the lowering of the larynx to permit speech. Instead, notes the author, nose breathing widens the airways and makes breathing easier, with success building on success to clear up breathing problems such as the ones he’d been laboring under. In the way of an ancient master of prana—or chi, pneuma, atma, and many another spiritually resonant term—Nestor offers the lessons he learned from pulmonologists and “pulmonauts” alike. These include what he calls “the perfect breath”: breathing in deeply through the nose for 5.5 seconds and out for 5.5 seconds, which yields 5.5 breaths a minute. It’s free, he counsels happily, “and you can do it wherever you are, whenever you need.”

A welcome, invigorating user’s manual for the respiratory system.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1361-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2020

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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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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