A game-changer that we would be foolish to ignore.



A senior research scientist at MIT sounds the alarm on the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other agrochemicals.

Seneff takes us on a shocking biochemical journey through the deleterious effects of glyphosate on the environment and humans. The author clearly explains the ever growing body of scientific evidence of the insidious consequences of its continued, massive application across the world. As Seneff shows, the herbicide is the common denominator to a swath of environmental and human health problems, from obesity to autism to toad die-offs. The herbicide disrupts the uptake of minerals by plants and kills the bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that have symbiotic relationships with plants for mutual health. The direct effect on humans is dire, as glyphosate damages the gut microorganisms our bodies use to synthesize the amino acids that build body proteins. This affects everything from liver and kidney functions to fertility and autoimmunity. Seneff is precise about the biochemistry involved, but she is a genial, attentive guide. “I know this is technical but stay with me,” she writes. When she ventures into new, even controversial work, she is diligent in her analysis but candid about such territory: “I propose…,” “may be damaging…,” “Autism is not due to glyphosate exposure alone….” The two most salient—and devastating—points that Seneff highlights: First, glyphosate, which shows up in our soil, water, and even air, is disturbingly pervasive….ubiquitous…nearly impossible for even the most diligent person to avoid.” Second, the agricultural industry, taking a page from the tobacco industry’s playbook, does everything it can to hide the dangers: Monsanto and other companies censor research and proliferate junk science, raking in profits by turning a blind eye to the chronic illnesses resulting from glyphosate use. Comparisons will be made to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—and they should be. We can only hope Seneff’s work goes on to rival Carson’s in reach and impact.

A game-changer that we would be foolish to ignore.

Pub Date: July 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-60358-929-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Chelsea Green

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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