by Jonathan Reisman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 26, 2021
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
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021
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by Walter Isaacson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2023
New York Times Bestseller
A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.
To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 688
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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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
Page Count: 184
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021
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