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

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VOICES FROM THE HEART

LIFTING THE VEIL ON EPILEPSY

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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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

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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