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A powerful step forward in increasing knowledge of epilepsy and reducing the stigma surrounding it.

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A collection of essays by people affected by epilepsy sheds light on an often misunderstood disorder.

More than 3 million Americans have epilepsy, but despite its frequency, most people’s understanding of the condition is still “woefully deficient,” according to Susan Axelrod, the founding chair of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, who provides this book’s foreword. Debut editor Stanislaw, a documentary filmmaker living with the disorder, has put together a unique collection of nearly three dozen essays to “help lift the many misperceptions that surround epilepsy” as well as clarify the challenges that people with the condition “face every single day.” (It serves as an unofficial companion piece to the author’s 2016 documentary On the Edge: Living with Epilepsy.) Some essays are from people who have epilepsy; others are from family members and friends. They offer accounts of an unpredictable disorder that’s led to lost jobs, difficulty finding romantic partners, and the “fear of the unknown, the fear of embarrassment, and the fear of being ostracized.” Many of the essays are deeply moving, such as “Observations from the Foot of the Cross” by the Rev. Francis Hilton, whose sister has epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease; he describes the agony of not knowing “if your efforts to maximize comfort and joy are working.” In “Reaching for the Stars with Epilepsy,” Amanda Rich candidly shares how her first seizure was “the start of an incredible journey, full of obstacles to overcome.” Some writers have just a passing experience with epilepsy, such as Jonathan Magaziner, who witnessed a fellow passenger’s seizure on an international flight, and David Mustine, who saw a professional acquaintance experience an epileptic episode. These latter entries lack the gut-punch intensity of some of the more personal accounts, but they do effectively draw attention to the confusion about how to properly respond to a seizure. (First-aid tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also helpfully included.) In another essay, a teacher wonders why schools don’t focus on providing a safe space for students with the condition. Charming, full-color illustrations by Stanislaw add a lighthearted touch.

A powerful step forward in increasing knowledge of epilepsy and reducing the stigma surrounding it.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9976405-1-9

Page Count: 147

Publisher: Val de Grace Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

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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