An adroit portrait of an early American physician who became a pioneering horticulturist.

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AMERICAN EDEN

DAVID HOSACK, BOTANY, AND MEDICINE IN THE GARDEN OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC

A biography of David Hosack (1769-1835), a nature-obsessed doctor who “was convinced that saving lives also depended on knowing the natural world outside the human body.”

Trivia buffs may know Hosack as the physician who attended the 1804 duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. He certainly deserves a fuller portrait, and in her first book, Johnson (Urban Policy and Planning/Hunter Coll.) writes an admiring account of the energetic physician, who mingled with the Founding Fathers, lectured in medical schools across the country, and created America’s first botanical garden. After training in America, Hosack traveled to Britain in 1792 to take advantage of its superior schooling. This included the study of medicinal plants, a more important element in medical practice during that time than today. He became fascinated with botany and brought this passion home in 1794. Settling in New York, he built a prosperous practice and became a university professor in both medicine and botany. Remaining neutral in national politics allowed him to treat both Hamilton and his bitter enemy, Burr. In 1801, he bought 20 acres in then-rural mid-Manhattan and built a huge botanical garden replete with greenhouses and hothouses. Universally praised, it became an educational and research center. However, the expenses were ruinous even for a wealthy physician, and Hosack, supported by influential friends, lobbied for government support. Legislators were unenthusiastic until 1810, when New York state bought it for less than Hosack wanted; then the government showed little interest in maintenance, so it fell into decay. As a physician, Hosack was not ahead of his time. He bled patients, prescribed toxins such as mercury, and administered drugs that produced vomiting, sweating, or diarrhea. This was accepted practice, and Johnson gives his healing efforts perhaps more credit than they deserve, but she provides an engaging tale of an important life in early America.

An adroit portrait of an early American physician who became a pioneering horticulturist.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-419-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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