An artful commingling of life with children, environmental mayhem and political-science primer. A great companion to Philip...



Biologist and environmental-health writer Steingraber (Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, 2001, etc.) confronts the hormone-disrupting, brain-damaging toxins our children absorb from the playground to the kitchen floor, and everywhere in between.

A mother of two, the author is extra-sensitive to the many dangers lurking in her children’s everyday experiences. Though she’s occasionally overly sensitive (“I don’t even like having my kids in the kitchen while pasta is cooking or being drained”), Steingraber writes with clarity about many of the poisonous chemical agents that infest our daily lives—the arsenic that leaches from pressure-treated wood, the pesticides on food, PVCs in the kitchen tiling, asbestos and lead paint—and the unique risks they pose to children. The author capably sketches the background of the toxins, the ways in which we are exposed to them and how she has sought to avoid them in the home. The book gets its rhythm and appeal from the twining of science and personal examples—e.g., the time her husband ripped up the tiles on their kitchen floor, only to find asbestos tiles below that and then lead-based paint below that. When it comes to the politics of it all, Steingraber is bracingly elemental. Because the government has simply not done its job of ensuring domestic environmental tranquility, “[t]he way we protect our kids from terrible knowledge is not to hide the terrible knowledge…but to let them watch us rise up in the face of terrible knowledge and do something.”

An artful commingling of life with children, environmental mayhem and political-science primer. A great companion to Philip and Alice Shabecoff’s Poisoned Profits (2008).

Pub Date: April 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7382-1399-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Merloyd Lawrence/Da Capo

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

Did you like this book?