A potent hybrid of medical history/journal and memoir.




A patient-focused perspective on two highly complex and stigmatized brain diseases.

In this effective demystification of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, physician and bioethicist Powell (Psychiatry and Bioethics/Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine) reframes two debilitating cognitive disorders. She recounts her medical school years studying brain pathology, a field that has been drastically revised and improved over the decades, though definitive disease cures remain elusive. Her illuminating history of Alzheimer’s disease and its legacy of treatments and policies features the German psychiatrist who identified the malady and Solomon Fuller, a black pathologist who contributed groundbreaking brain-mapping dementia studies in the early 20th century. Deinstitutionalization and assisted living facility costs refocused government attention back onto mental illness and the elderly, rebranding it as a priority just as Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994. Powell smoothly moves through the advent of palliative drugs and the much-argued hypotheses of amyloid plaque accumulation as well as the debate over preventative PET scans. There is progress being made, she observes, and optimistic statistics show the numbers of older people with dementia decreasing, yet the stakes and costs remain high to find a cure. Powell profiles a geriatrician who discusses the ethical, emotional, and financial dilemmas facing loved ones of dementia patients, and she looks at the caregiving decisions that plague families. As someone who regularly participates in research studies, the author holds a great personal (and congenital) stake in her subject matter. Her “medical training,” she writes, “never prepared me to address the challenges of dementia that I faced as a daughter and granddaughter,” and her warm advice to readers on effective dementia care is useful and proactively delivered. In a touching conclusion, Powell discusses her imagined requests at the final stages of her life when feeding tubes and emergency room visits are forbidden in favor of daily pain management. Throughout this insightful book, the author addresses the issues facing dementia victims and their caregivers with the kind of compassion and dignity everyone deserves at the end of life.

A potent hybrid of medical history/journal and memoir.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1090-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avery

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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