An eye-opening, disturbing, empowering, and essential text.
An urgent examination of a global problem that requires vastly more attention than it currently receives.
Despite the pervasive idea that overpopulation is one of the most pressing concerns facing our planet, human fertility rates are dropping fast. Without a concerted global effort to reverse this trend, long-term human survival may be at risk, according to renowned epidemiologist and public health expert Swan. The author made headlines in 2017 when she published a “meta-analysis on sperm-count decline in Western countries.” Her study became one of the most-cited in history, making it a hot topic among scientists as well as the public. Despite the attention, the demonstrated causes of fertility decline—including toxic chemicals that transfer from everyday products and foods into our bodies—remain a problem. In this impeccably researched, cogent book, the author convincingly argues that if society’s trend toward a fertility rate below replacement level continues at the current pace, humans could become an endangered species. “Of five possible criteria for what makes a species endangered,” she writes, “only one needs to be met; the current state of affairs for humans meets at least three.” The author’s passion for her work and access to reams of alarming data make for riveting reading, and her writing is crisp and unfettered by jargon. Writing about the lack of awareness regarding commonly used chemicals that are harming humans and the environment—not to mention policies to limit or eliminate them—she asks with justified anger, “Where is the outrage on this issue?!” Acknowledging the glacial pace of institutional change, Swan outlines how people can take concrete action to protect themselves now and how positive change has long-term ripple effects that benefit future generations. With an advocate’s verve and a scientist’s informed confidence, the author voices “a clarion call for all of us to do what we can to safeguard our fertility, the fate of mankind, and the planet.”An eye-opening, disturbing, empowering, and essential text.
Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020
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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Awards & Accolades
The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.
Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.
Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Celadon Books
Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020
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by Jimmy Buffett ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 1, 1998
Lg. Prt. 0-375-70288-1 This first nonfiction outing from singer/songwriter Buffett (Where Is Joe Merchant?, 1992, etc.) is more food for his Parrothead fans, but there is some fine writing along with the self-revelation. Half autobiography and half travelogue, this volume recounts a trip by Buffett and his family to the Caribbean over one Christmas holiday to celebrate the writer’s 50th birthday. Buffett is a licensed pilot, and his personal weakness is for seaplanes, so it’s primarily in this sort of craft that the family’s journey takes place. While giving beautiful descriptions of the locales to which he travels (including a very attractive portrait of Key West, from which he sets out), Buffett intersperses recollections of his first, short-lived marriage, his experiences in college and avoiding the Vietnam draft, and his brief employment at Billboard magazine’s Nashville bureau before becoming a professional musician. In the meantime, he carries his reader seamlessly through the Cayman Island, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Amazon basin, and Trinidad and Tobago. Buffett shows that he is a keen observer of Latin American culture and also that he can “pass” in these surroundings when he needs to. It’s perhaps on this latter point that this book finds its principal weakness. Buffett tends toward preachiness in addressing his mostly landlubber readers, as when he decries the seeming American inability to learn a second language while most Caribbeans can speak English; elsewhere he attacks “ugly Americans out there making it harder for us more-connected-to-the-local-culture types.” On the other hand, he seems right on the money when he observes that the drug war of the 1980s did little to stop trafficking in the area and that turning wetlands into helicopter pads for drug agents isn’t going to offer any additional help. Both Parrotheads and those with a taste for the Caribbean find something for their palates here. (Author tour)
Pub Date: July 1, 1998
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998
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