A difficult but rewarding look at a major scientific dispute.

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Alzheimer's Disease

HOW ITS BACTERIAL CAUSE WAS FOUND AND THEN DISCARDED

A historical account of the debate over the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is both debilitating and near ubiquitous; if one lives long enough, Broxmeyer (Autism, 2014, etc.) observes, the odds are high that one will suffer some iteration of it. He also notes that Alois Alzheimer, the scientist after whom the disease is named, likely contributed as much as anyone to the general confusion regarding its precise nature. In 1901, Broxmeyer says, Alzheimer examined Auguste Deter—a woman suffering from diminished memory and behavioral abnormality—and seemed determined to avoid implicating tuberculosis even though the potential link between the two was clear. At the start of the 20th century, TB was troublingly common, but Alzheimer insisted that whatever infectious disease caused the newly discovered malady was itself altogether new. However, the author points out, German neuropathologist Oskar Fischer observed in autopsies that brains addled with Alzheimer’s disease also exhibited a germ associated with TB. Later, it would be discovered that tubercular microbes could generate amyloid fibrils very similar to those found in the Alzheimer’s-related plaques and seemed to affect the brain’s immune cells in the same way. The author is an internist and a medical researcher, and his double mastery of both the scientific minutiae and historical nuances of his subject matter is breathtaking. This is more than an account of a scientific debate—it’s also an examination of the sometimes-unempirical way that such debate proceeds, as it’s conducted by human beings with agendas of their own. The science in this book can be formidably complex, and although Broxmeyer seems to make a concerted effort toward clarity, his work isn’t for the casual layperson. As a result, although it’s a relatively short book—less than 200 pages of text—it is by no means a quick read. Nevertheless, readers with strong science backgrounds will be impressed by the author’s undeniable competence, as well as his journalistic approach to chartering the evolution of thought regarding one of our era’s most challenging diseases.

A difficult but rewarding look at a major scientific dispute.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4912-8735-4

Page Count: 190

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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