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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF PLANTS

A neurobiologist reveals the interconnectedness of the natural world through stories of plant migration.

In this slim but well-packed book, Mancuso (Plant Science/Univ. of Florence; The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior, 2018, etc.) presents an illuminating and surprisingly lively study of plant life. He smoothly balances expansive historical exploration with recent scientific research through stories of how various plant species are capable of migrating to locations throughout the world by means of air, water, and even via animals. They often continue to thrive in spite of dire obstacles and environments. One example is the response of plants following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Three decades later, the abandoned “Exclusion Zone” is now entirely covered by an enormous assortment of thriving plants. Mancuso also tracks the journeys of several species that might be regarded as invasive. “Why…do we insist on labeling as ‘invasive’ all those plants that, with great success, have managed to occupy new territories?” asks the author. “On a closer look, the invasive plants of today are the native flora of the future, just as the invasive species of the past are a fundamental part of our ecosystem today.” Throughout, Mancuso persuasively articulates why an understanding and appreciation of how nature is interconnected is vital to the future of our planet. “In nature everything is connected,” he writes. “This simple law that humans don’t seem to understand has a corollary: the extinction of a species, besides being a calamity in and of itself, has unforeseeable consequences for the system to which the species belongs.” The book is not without flaws. The loosely imagined watercolor renderings are vague and fail to effectively complement Mancuso’s richly descriptive prose or satisfy readers’ curiosity. Even without actual photos and maps, it would have been beneficial to readers to include more finely detailed plant and map renderings.

An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63542-991-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more