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

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

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


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


Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Close Quickview