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SCIENCE WITH STREET VALUE

A PHYSICIST'S WANDERINGS OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

An intellectually intriguing, if sometimes-dry, account of a physicist’s philosophical growth.

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A physicist joins a secretive philosophical society in Modis’ fictionalized account of true events.

Ted seems as if he was destined to become a scientist, as he “had been passionately attracted to physics from a tender age.” But long after achieving professional success and respectability working in Geneva for CERN, “the most important laboratory for particle physics in the world,” he experiences a nagging “disenchantment” with “hard science.” He feels that it has failed to generate practical applications for ordinary life and to tackle big questions, such the purpose of humanity. With Aris and Mihali, two of his friends from graduate school, he forms a group that meets for “intellectual introspective get-togethers”—free-wheeling discussions that are unrestrained by the strictures of academic science. The trio becomes particularly intoxicated by the ruminations of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, a 20th-century philosopher for whom a European institute is named, which Ted tracks down and joins. Modis meticulously chronicles Ted’s fascinating philosophical awakening, which expresses itself first as an exercise in being “unfaithful to science” and then in an exploration of ways to mine science for far-reaching wisdom. At one point, Ted forcefully answers an objection that he’s “cheapening” science: “Science is not meant to be locked up in ivory towers and be accessible only to a select group of people. It is meant to deliver value by all possible means, including ways not anticipated by scientists.” Although the story is presented like fiction, with a third-person perspective, the book is Modis’ self-proclaimed “personal account of true events and real people,” and it reads like a memoir more than it does a novel. The real drama of the book is in the tension between the intellectual and the emotional, and the author provides a thoughtful, if sometimes forbidding, account of his characters’ philosophical peregrinations. Overall, Modis offers a lively discussion even if it frequently feels like excerpts from a textbook.

An intellectually intriguing, if sometimes-dry, account of a physicist’s philosophical growth.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 203

Publisher: Ibidem Press

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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