A harrowing cautionary narrative that speaks to patients and physicians alike on the ugly reality of the enduring opioid...

IN PAIN

A BIOETHICIST’S PERSONAL STRUGGLE WITH OPIOIDS

A debilitating accident prompts a man’s descent into opioid dependence.

Rieder (Toward a Small Family Ethic, 2016, etc.), the assistant director for Education Initiatives at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, retraces the aftermath of a traumatic 2015 accident that shattered his foot and forced him to endure six grueling surgeries. Eventually, the author was sent home with a stockpile of opioid painkillers for his excruciating pain. Rieder doesn’t skimp on the grisly post-surgical details, including “the boiling pain of carved tissue” or how “coming out of anesthesia was basically the process of discovering how awful it was to be conscious.” Sprinkled among the chronological chapters of his recovery are fascinating sections in which the author discusses the historical narrative of opioids, racial differences in pain assessment, and the intricate mechanics of physical pain, that “fiery, boiling, acidic” suffering that Rieder knows well. As he recovered, his physician advised him to wean himself off the high doses of oxycodone he was taking. The author describes weeks of agonizing withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, nausea, cold sweats, and terrifying emotional darkness, which, as a new father to a young daughter, left him unable to care for her at home. Though he fortunately overcame his opioid dependence, Rieder believes he is one of the lucky ones and that improved withdrawal management and behavioral intervention programs must be mandated in hospitals to “help patients escape the grip of this medication.” Later in the book, the author takes a critical detour to skillfully address the primary challenge facing opioid-prescribing physicians: initiating dependency while dutifully attempting to alleviate severe patient discomfort. Rieder recognizes in himself—and others, including his mother, who had knee replacement surgery—the dilemma facing the medical community: treating patients in pain with dangerously addictive medications responsible for killing thousands yearly. With this smart, riveting, real-life account, the author proves himself a convincing and effective advocate for opioid use reform.

A harrowing cautionary narrative that speaks to patients and physicians alike on the ugly reality of the enduring opioid epidemic.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-285464-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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