An informative guide to what the authors call “the pandemic in plain sight,” urgent without undue alarmism.

CHRONIC

A doctor and his former patient explore what they posit is the pathogen-spread rise of autoimmune illnesses, with millions of victims.

Diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia are not single illnesses as such but instead clusters of symptoms with many points in common. Because their etiology is hard to pin down, many sufferers are often dismissed with the simple notation that the illness is psychosomatic. Yet, writes Phillips, “maybe you were referred to a psychiatrist or prescribed an antidepressant by your general practitioner.” For various reasons, he and Parish write, pathogens are on the rise and ever more ubiquitous as a result of climate change; these pathogens include viruses, parasites such as protozoa, and bacteria. By 2050, they project, 12% of the U.S. population will be affected by a kind of “Lyme+” disease, costing billions annually in medical expenses and lost productivity. The list of vector-borne ailments is long, and too often our understanding of them is incomplete. The authors write, for instance, that bartonellosis is not strictly a tick-borne disease but can be transmitted by fleas, lice, and even ants. Apart from the fact that a spirochete is involved, everything else about Lyme is “bitterly debated,” with no agreed-upon treatment regimen. What’s worse, the range of illnesses that may be hidden by Lyme-like symptoms can include cancer, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. Phillips and Parish suggest a range of treatments, from anxiety-reducing exercises to herbal remedies such as oregano oil, cinnamon bark, and cumin seeds that have been shown to have “strong killing activity against ‘persister’ forms of the Lyme bacterium”—though none of those proposed treatments is definitive.

An informative guide to what the authors call “the pandemic in plain sight,” urgent without undue alarmism.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-06471-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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