A well-informed consideration of the intimacy of care.

A warm appreciation of the nursing profession.

Freelance journalist DiGregorio, author of Early, a history of premature birth, celebrates nursing in a capacious look at nurses throughout history, from prehistoric times to the present. Rather than focus only on hospital practice, the author sees nursing “as a biological science and as hands-on caring, as professional and as domestic, as skills and as relationships, as knowing in the mind and knowing in the body.” Before university-trained physicians dominated medical care, creating a hierarchy that defined nurses as their menial assistants, hands-on caring was provided by lay physicians, herbalists, midwives, members of religious communities, mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, who passed down skills and potions to heal wounds and repair vulnerable bodies. Nursing, the author asserts, did not begin in Victorian England with the tireless—though racist and classist—Florence Nightingale. DiGregorio highlights the work of some famous nurses, including Lillian Wald, who established a visiting nurse system, and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. But most of her abundant evidence of the crucial and transformative practice of nursing comes through her profiles of community health nurses, first responders, reproductive health providers, nurses-turned-politicians, and hospice nurses. As the largest portion of the workforce, 4 million registered nurses practice in the U.S., and 90% are women. Although there is no nursing shortage, hospitals often cut nursing staff to keep costs low: “Nurses are considered a hospital expense,” writes DiGregorio, “because their practice is usually not billable to insurance the way physicians’ services are.” Overworked and exhausted, many are engaging in collective action, a move the author believes should get active public support. As one nurse told her, “Nursing is a profoundly radical profession that calls society to equality and justice, to trustworthiness and to openness. The profession is, also, radically political: it imagines a world in which the conditions necessary for health are enjoyed by all people.”

A well-informed consideration of the intimacy of care.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063071285

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023


A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023


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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