An illuminating, up-to-the-minute testimonial sure to garner widespread attention and controversy.

DEADLY SPIN

AN INSURANCE COMPANY INSIDER SPEAKS OUT ON HOW CORPORATE PR IS KILLING HEALTH CARE AND DECEIVING AMERICANS

A former health-care PR executive blows the whistle on the industry.

Born in rural North Carolina to hardworking parents struggling through lean times, Center for Media and Democracy senior fellow Potter was the first in his family to earn a college degree, after which he became an investigative reporter at a Memphis newspaper. A gig as a political lobbyist led him into the public-relations field, where he accepted a prestigious position at managed-care behemoth Humana. In 1993, he signed on with CIGNA, a highly respected, for-profit health insurer, earning a six-figure salary as a senior PR executive. But as Potter ascended the corporate ranks, disillusionment became commonplace alongside the pressures to increase profitability at any cost while callously disregarding the basic principles of ethics. His conscience buckled. The author recalls working on an aggressive, exorbitant campaign (using health-plan premiums) to discredit filmmaker Michael Moore, whose 2007 documentary Sicko detailed the dire state of American health care. Potter experienced firsthand the destitute situations of those without health care when he visited a “clinic day” on public fairgrounds in Virginia. The author backs up his claims with historical perspectives, industry dissection, consumer profiles and the hard evidence of documented Congressional investigations. He now considers the insurance industry “an evil system built and sustained on greed”—an opinion he maintained after being asked to testify on behalf of an investigation spearheaded by Democratic senator Jay Rockefeller. Potter officially addressed the U.S. Senate on June 24, 2009, exposing the “spin machine” used by companies like CIGNA to confuse unsuspecting consumers. The author concludes optimistically with the passage of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which he considers a positive, proactive leap toward health-care reform.

An illuminating, up-to-the-minute testimonial sure to garner widespread attention and controversy.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-60819-281-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

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

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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