Against Hunger for reducing hunger in the world. While the subject is often somber, the presentation is one of verve and...



An engrossing account of the myriad aspects of hunger, from its psychological and physical effects on the body to the spiritual, therapeutic and political motivations for fasting.

Russell (Writing/ Western New Mexico University), author of The Anatomy of a Rose (2001) and other books on natural history, undertaken a period of fasting to learn firsthand what real hunger feels like. Hunger, she reports, is as big as history and as intimate as the self. Besides providing disturbing statistics on hunger and riveting accounts of famines, she explores the physiology of digestion and the mystery of anorexia nervosa, delves into the curious practice of competitive fasting and reports on the use of hunger strikes by Gandhi, English suffragettes and Irish Republicans. Perhaps the most fascinating sections of her book are her accounts of hunger studies. One amazing study was conducted by Jewish doctors trapped inside the Warsaw ghetto in World War II, when official Nazi policy was starvation of the Jews. The results of the project, which ended in 1943 when the inhabitants were liquidated and the ghetto razed, were smuggled out to aryan doctors, published in French in 1946 and remain today the most detailed portrait of extreme starvation. Another study conducted in 1944 and 1945 in Minnesota used conscientious objectors as medical guinea pigs, putting young men on a semi-starvation diet for six months and then refeeding them in order to determine the most effective and economical way to help starving populations at the war’s end. Also noteworthy are descriptions of how hunger shapes human culture. Here, Russell turns to the work of anthropologist Colin Turnbull, who studied the starving Ik people of Uganda and Kenya in the 1960s and created a chilling portrait of human behavior under the stress of chronic hunger. Following her account of relief efforts around the globe, her penultimate chapter includes the recommendations of the U.N. Task Force

Against Hunger for reducing hunger in the world. While the subject is often somber, the presentation is one of verve and style–and the end-of-book notes provide a useful guide for readers whose interest has been piqued.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-465-07163-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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

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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

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...


Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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