R U Medically Curious?

SIMPLE ANSWERS TO COMMON MEDICAL QUESTIONS

A medical primer delivers basic information on common—and a few uncommon—ailments.

Romane (Simple as ABG, 2011), a retired emergency medicine specialist and author of a respiratory system textbook, presents a loose-limbed, haphazard tour of health care–related topics. (And for good measure, an extraneous bit on the global warming that comes from the carbon dioxide that humans exhale.) There are sections on, among other things, the common cold (it’s mainly caused by viruses, so antibiotics won’t help), various kinds of bone fractures readers suffer from, back pain (surgery helps only half the time), rabies (watch out for foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons), and drug addiction (prescription pain meds are the main gateway). The heftiest section is a long disquisition on the causes, symptoms, dire outcomes, and treatment of diabetes. There’s a fair portion of doctorly nagging about lifestyles, including sections on obesity (forget carbs vs. fats; the only thing that counts in a diet is reducing total calories), smoking (here the author focuses not on lung cancer but on the frightening, frequent, and fatal scourges of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and bad driving (texting, he admonishes, impairs a motorist as much as being drunk). And there’s some soapboxing about health care policy: doctors are scolded for overprescribing antibiotics and breeding drug-resistant bacteria; big pharma gets dinged for making misleading ads and expensive copycat drugs; a graphic-illustrated section on the damage bullets can do is paired with a call for a ban on assault rifles. Romane translates medical issues into lucid, down-to-earth terms—“hemorrhoids are really just Varicose Veins of your butt”—while still conveying the basic scientific underpinnings of disease and treatment. (The many photos, drawings, and tables help with that.) This slender, easy-to-understand volume is not an encyclopedic examination of the topic or an adequate home diagnostic reference, but Romane’s prose is so engaging that readers can browse it for enjoyment while picking up useful lore along the way. A readable and diverting health care treatise for laypeople.

Pub Date: April 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4897-0716-1

Page Count: 148

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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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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