by Wallace J. Nichols ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2014
A fascinating, fact-based report for aquaphiles and those at one with the tides.
A lifelong ocean advocate and aquatic educator examines the biocentric and neurochemical wonderments of water.
Passionately dedicated to oceanic sciences, marine biologist and California Academy of Sciences research associate Nichols presents fieldwork largely focused on scientific experiments measuring the human brain’s electrical response to water. He astutely examines how the ocean, the color blue and regular human interaction with water significantly affect mood, attitude and energetic productivity, and he explores our evolutionary connection to water and the ways it inspires creative flow. On a personal note, Nichols admits to his own attraction to the water’s edge initiated when he brought his 18-month-old daughter along on an oceanside coastal trek from Oregon to Mexico. Factors such as DNA, biology and physical well-being can predispose one to an attraction to water, he writes, and as his numerous studies suggest, we tend to be at our happiest when surrounded by a natural environment, whether swimming, surfing or simply bathing, and “riverbanks, beaches, and lakefronts” play a large part in this accumulated state of blissfulness. This postulate is further proved by the consistent demand for premium-priced oceanfront property across the globe. But as seductively pristine as these waters are, Nichols warns, they also carry risk and a downside, as evidenced by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy and the environmentally devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A true voice for environmental advocacy, Nichols promotes the “Blue Mind” approach to conscious ecological conservation and fosters the Earth-friendly, interconnectedness expressed through his Blue Marble Project. In the book’s thought-provoking introduction, Celine Cousteau admits to being as irresistibly drawn to water as her grandfather Jacques was, yet she previously resisted the need to “explain the magic.” She now realizes that Nichols’ unique fieldwork and scientific scrutiny is necessary “to restore the health of the world’s water systems.”A fascinating, fact-based report for aquaphiles and those at one with the tides.
Pub Date: July 22, 2014
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014
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by Bonnie Tsui ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 14, 2020
An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.
A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.
For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.
Pub Date: April 14, 2020
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020
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by Rebecca Skloot ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 9, 2010
Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...
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
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010
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