Rendon offers not just a spoonful of medicine, but also a furtherance of works by Frankl, Abraham Maslow, and his new,...

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UPSIDE

THE NEW SCIENCE OF POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH

Journalist Rendon examines the question of how trauma changes people, reshaping their lives and senses of self.

The author opens with a story about this father, a survivor of the terrifying and grotesque Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. His father carries serious baggage—“I joke with him that the Nazis won’t shoot him if we are late for a dinner reservation. He usually looks at me like he’s not so sure”—but he is also humorous, compassionate, friendly, and empathetic. After trauma, Rendon’s research has convinced him—and likely will convince readers—that a return to the old normalcy is rarely achievable. It may not even be desirable. “[Trauma] is transformative”—not always for the good, but more often than one might think. The author’s journey of discovery takes him through the literature, from psychiatrists encountering a blossoming of inner strength, openness, and life appreciation in the traumatized; to Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy; to the ins and outs of positive psychology; to neurological and cultural factors that come into the recuperative (or nonrecuperative) picture. Much of the information the author relates is straightforward and common-sensical—e.g., “It is the mid-range experience,” neither mild nor utterly eviscerating trauma, “where most studies show the greatest potential for growth”—but the book is also full of stories of lasting, seismic traumas handled by men and women in remarkable ways, giving the book the valuable, practical aspect of a guide to confronting PTSD. Rendon examines how to train optimism, how to find absorption and nurture creativity in new experiences, how camaraderie and support lead to gratitude and commitment, and how “when you decide to struggle, you say I am going to elect to be challenged. You are enlivened.”

Rendon offers not just a spoonful of medicine, but also a furtherance of works by Frankl, Abraham Maslow, and his new, revitalized acquaintances.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6163-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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