Despite some maudlin passages, Gorant ably presents an ugly story with a redemptive ending.

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THE LOST DOGS

MICHAEL VICK'S DOGS AND THEIR TALE OF RESCUE AND REDEMPTION

The story of the dogs abused in NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s illegal dogfighting activities.

During the course of another investigation, Virginia state officials were led to a rural property owned by Vick, where they found drug paraphernalia, marijuana and an assortment of guns—as well as evidence of an illegal dogfighting operation, including a pit where dog fights occurred and a field where 66 pit bulls were chained up with very little food and water. Sports Illustrated senior editor Gorant (Fanatic: Ten Things All Sports Fans Should Do Before They Die, 2007) looks at how dedicated local law-enforcement officers and a USDA undercover agent teamed up to gather evidence, bringing the case to trial (“the biggest dogfighting conviction ever, one that set new precedents”), despite local pressure to drop the prosecution. The author presents a nuanced picture of Vick’s involvement, from his original effort to cover up his connection to the dogfighting ring by claiming that he had bought the property for the use of family and friends, to his confession and apology. Sentenced to 23 months in prison, his career was left in shambles and he was forced to declare bankruptcy. Another outcome of the case was the rehabilitation of the dogs, which for the first time, writes Gorant, “were looked at not as weapons, as the equivalent of a gun in a shooting, but as victims.” Because of the efforts of dedicated animal-rescue workers, two-thirds found good homes where they were loved and socialized. The author makes a strong case that pit bulls have an underservedly bad reputation—“the latest breed to get sucked into a self-fulfilling cycle of fear, hype, substandard care, and rising population”—following in the footsteps of bloodhounds, German shepherds and Dobermans “as next in the line of tough-guy dogs.”

Despite some maudlin passages, Gorant ably presents an ugly story with a redemptive ending.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-592-40550-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

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LAB GIRL

Award-winning scientist Jahren (Geology and Geophysics/Univ. of Hawaii) delivers a personal memoir and a paean to the natural world.

The author’s father was a physics and earth science teacher who encouraged her play in the laboratory, and her mother was a student of English literature who nurtured her love of reading. Both of these early influences engrossingly combine in this adroit story of a dedication to science. Jahren’s journey from struggling student to struggling scientist has the narrative tension of a novel and characters she imbues with real depth. The heroes in this tale are the plants that the author studies, and throughout, she employs her facility with words to engage her readers. We learn much along the way—e.g., how the willow tree clones itself, the courage of a seed’s first root, the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi, and the airborne signals used by trees in their ongoing war against insects. Trees are of key interest to Jahren, and at times she waxes poetic: “Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.” The author draws many parallels between her subjects and herself. This is her story, after all, and we are engaged beyond expectation as she relates her struggle in building and running laboratory after laboratory at the universities that have employed her. Present throughout is her lab partner, a disaffected genius named Bill, whom she recruited when she was a graduate student at Berkeley and with whom she’s worked ever since. The author’s tenacity, hope, and gratitude are all evident as she and Bill chase the sweetness of discovery in the face of the harsh economic realities of the research scientist.

Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-87493-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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