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A thoughtful, always interesting look into the workings of the mind—and the sometimes-surprising implications of how those...

Science in the service of power can easily be warped and distorted—but, as this book shows, it can sometimes yield unexpected benefits.

Robert G. Heath (1915-1999) was once a widely respected, influential psychiatrist at Tulane University. As neurobiologist-turned–science journalist Frank (My Beautiful Genome: Discovering Our Genetic Future, One Quirk at a Time, 2012, etc.) writes, Heath’s biologically oriented work found many acolytes, among them a student who lost his academic chair later in life for having “prescribed too many interesting—and illegal—medications” to the university football team. Some of Heath’s work was equally troubling on the ethical front. He likely worked with the CIA on mind control experiments. Moreover, as Frank’s book opens, we find him attempting “to convert a homosexual man to heterosexual preferences through brain stimulation,” having wired electrodes into the patient’s brain’s “pleasure center” and hired a female prostitute to effect the conversion. Heath’s “brain pacemaker,” as he called the electrode device, was applied to dozens of other patients suffering from schizophrenia and depression, a seemingly brutal application save that other remedies were more invasive electroshock treatments and lobotomies. It turns out, writes the author, that although Heath is forgotten or discredited today, he was on to something: what is called “deep brain stimulation” is at the forefront of psychological studies today, with uses that include treating PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Arriving at this conclusion took decades of work in neuroscience, including the ability to study MRI scans of neural centers, among them “brain regions involved with our motivation, our experience of fear, our learning abilities and memory, libido, regulation of sleep, appetite”—in short, activities of interest to industry and government as well as science. Heath’s work may then have application after all, writes Frank, even if one psychiatric technician allows along the way that “maybe he shouldn’t have done that experiment.”

A thoughtful, always interesting look into the workings of the mind—and the sometimes-surprising implications of how those workings have been revealed.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-98653-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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