A fine life, warts and all, of a brilliant scientist and his fight against cancer.



A long-overdue biography of German biologist Otto Warburg (1883-1970), who won the Nobel Prize for his work on cell respiration and metabolism, especially as related to cancer.

Self-confident and assertive, Warburg made his first groundbreaking discovery—that fertilized eggs vastly increased their oxygen consumption—even before receiving his medical degree. By the 1920s, his work on cell metabolism and cancer persuaded the Rockefeller Foundation to give him a yearly grant, followed by funds to build his own research facility at the Kaiser Wilhelm institutes in Berlin. Though occasionally harassed by Nazi officials, he was likely protected by Hitler, a hypochondriac terrified of cancer. Of more than 100 Jews at the institutes in 1933, he was the only one remaining in 1945. As health and science writer Apple shows, the postwar years produced little change in Warburg’s routine, and theories about the pathogenesis of cancer dominated research until the 1960s, when scientists turned their attention to DNA and cancer-causing genes. Since cancer remains unconquered, the 21st century has seen a “metabolism revival.” Apple begins and ends with sections on the nature of cancer, the incidence of which increases as technology progresses. This realization two centuries ago began an intense search for the cause, which is still in progress. The fact that “70 percent or more of cancers were caused by environment factors, a category that includes diet,” is less helpful than it sounds, although avoiding smoking, radiation, and toxic chemicals is recommended. Health gurus confidently prescribe “anticancer diets,” but good research turns up few specifics. Diabetes and obesity increase the risk, so there’s clearly a connection to overnutrition, but Apple admits that the “connection” needs serious narrowing. As the search continues, this book is a welcome addition to the library on the disease and one of its most successful enemies.

A fine life, warts and all, of a brilliant scientist and his fight against cancer.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-315-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A straightforward, carefully detailed presentation of how ``fruit comes from flowers,'' from winter's snow-covered buds through pollination and growth to ripening and harvest. Like the text, the illustrations are admirably clear and attractive, including the larger-than-life depiction of the parts of the flower at different stages. An excellent contribution to the solidly useful ``Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science'' series. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-020055-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1991

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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