Quirky, never-dull popular science.



A physician describes his travels and adventures while educating us about our body parts.

Reisman presents 15 compelling, sometimes scattershot chapters that mix personal experiences with lessons on anatomy—e.g., organs (lungs, heart, brain), fluids (blood, mucus, feces), and regions (genitals, throat, digits)—and even readers familiar with college biology will enjoy the experience. The author provides clear explanations of how blood must circulate, food enter and move steadily from one end of the body to the other, and urine, mucus, bile, and air flow smoothly. “A physician’s task in treating disease,” he writes, “is to alleviate blockages and allow fluids to resume their proper motion. In other words, most of the practice of medicine is plumbing.” Doctors spend much of their day dealing with a leak or “a clog stopping up the flow of some fluid sloshing through the body’s corporeal pipes.” The author delivers his lessons in a few pages before taking up subjects that fascinate him, a strategy that mostly works. Frostbite and finger injuries, with which Reisman has long experience, take up most of the discussion of digits, while in the chapter on blood, the author discusses leeches and how they are sometimes applied to skin grafts to prevent veins from clotting. In another chapter, Reisman chronicles the liver’s role in metabolism, a patient in the terrible throes of liver failure who was saved by a transplant, and his initial disgust with his relatives’ beloved chopped liver. Curious after studies in medical school, he took his first taste during Thanksgiving dinner and discovered that he liked it. This leads into a section on his global travels, many of which involved the consumption of various animal parts: kidneys, pancreases, marrow, brain, lungs, and even eyeballs. Little is known about the pineal gland in the brain except that it seems to regulate sleep, so Reisman writes about his sleep-deprived training and the miseries of the hospital routine on patients and health professionals alike.

Quirky, never-dull popular science.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-24662-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


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 lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.


The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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