Week ending March 22, 2013
Alexander, June & Cate Sangster. Ed Says U Said: Eating Disorder Translator. Jessica Kingsley. 2013. 288p. index. ISBN 9781849053310. pap. $19.95. HEALTH
Both writers and women who have struggled with eating disorders (ED), Alexander and Sangster draw from their combined years of personal experience and the stories of contributors to describe the internal dialog of negative, destructive thoughts that ED sufferers commonly experience. They provide examples of both clinical and conversational exchanges, written in the vernacular of social media, to shed light on the communication pitfalls encountered by well-meaning friends and family who don’t realize their words can be misinterpreted or even provocative to sufferers who speak a different language. Although this easy-to-read book does an excellent job as a comprehensive resource and offers clear-cut explanations for a complex mental illness, its focus is less on the cultural aspects of the disorder than, for example, Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia. Rather, it focuses on understanding the eating disorder “voice,” thus improving communication and breaking down barriers to recovery.
Verdict Included tips from survivors of the disorder are especially insightful and helpful. Families and friends affected by eating disorders should benefit from this book.—Linda Petty, Wimberley, TX
Goldacre, Ben. Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients. Faber & Faber. 2013. 430p. index. ISBN 9780865478008. $28. MED
British epidemiologist Goldacre (Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks), who writes the popular Guardian column “Bad Science,” is unabashedly polemical in his latest book. He addresses biases against publishing negative results, the limitations of current clinical trials, and the growing (but still limited) use of evidence-based medicine and comparative effectiveness research, along with the challenges and uncertainties of medicine. Published originally in the UK, the book also includes a number of examples from the United States. Building upon work such as Iain Chambers’s Testing Treatments: Better Research for Better Healthcare (for which Goldacre wrote the foreword), Jerry Avorn’s Powerful Medicines, and Marcia Angell’s The Truth About Drug Companies, Goldacre’s in-your-face rhetoric will capture attention and should spark important conversations about ways to improve medicine, clinician education, drug safety monitoring, and drug regulation and marketing.
Verdict Goldacre’s recommendations for much larger, simpler trials and for more access to clinical trial data, as well as educating people about risk assessment, clinical trial design, and statistical literacy make this much more than a condemnation of the pharmaceutical industry. Recommended for academic, health industry, and lay audiences.—Mary Chitty, Cambridge Healthtech, Neeedham, MA
Gordon, Suzanne & others. Beyond the Checklist: What Else Health Care Can Learn from Aviation Teamwork and Safety. ILR: Cornell Univ. 2012. 264p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801451607. $69.95. MED
Using the principles learned in the aviation industry through a program called Crew Resource Management, Gordon (When Chicken Soup Isn’t Enough: Stories of Nurses Standing Up for Themselves, Their Patients, and Their Profession) and her coauthors propose that this plan also be used for hospitals and medical staff. They write about how the airline industry has successfully cut down on disasters by using input from all personnel and getting them to work better as teams. Much time is spent explaining how the airline industry does that and how it has improved its safety records. They write about the training methods used and the airlines rules to make pilots and others comply. Unfortunately, because more than three-quarters of this book is spent on the airlines, not much is written about what suggestions would allow this plan to be implemented in medical situations. Nor do they spend much time writing about how they would propose that physicians be incorporated into the actual plan or induced to comply with the procedures.
Verdict Readers who are interested in aviation industry safety information would find this book challenging, but there is not much concrete medical safety information here.—Karen Sutherland, White Oak Lib. Dist., Romeoville, IL
Harrison, Mark. Contagion: How Commerce Has Spread Disease. Yale Univ. 2013. 400p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300123579. $38. MED
Harrison (history of medicine, Oxford Univ.; The Medical War: British Military Medicine in the First World War) traces the history of contemporary plagues back to the 14th century and ties them neatly into the history of trade and human mobility. Yellow fever, cholera, the plague, and anthrax all make an appearance in the world travels and wars that make up the course of human history. A particularly interesting chapter on quarantine talks about how it has been used throughout modern history as both a legitimate attempt to stop the spread of disease and a commercial tool to seize others’ businesses. Ending with a discussion of mad cow disease, SARS, and bird flu, Harrison astutely points out that although some things have changed in our ability to predict and defend against pandemics, globalization and competition for markets will always be a factor.
Verdict Though this book is well written, most general readers won’t be fascinated by the subject enough to stick with it. Recommended for scholarly and professional readers only.—Elizabeth A. Williams, Manatee Cty. Lib. Syst., Bradenton, FL
Pussy Riot & others. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer for Freedom. Feminist Pr., dist. by Consortium. 2013. 151p. ISBN 9781558618343. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781558618336. MUSIC
In 2012, three members of Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk band, were arrested and imprisoned for the group’s impromptu performance of “Virgin Mary—Put Putin Away” in a priests-only area of a Moscow cathedral. Dressed in colorful clothing and masks (balaclavas), the group offered their “punk prayer”: an impassioned plea for Putin’s removal from power for his corruption, violation of human rights, and use of the church for political ends. Here, the letters, poems, and courtroom declarations of group members Masha, Nadya, and Katya eloquently detail the message they sought to convey through their art; defense attorney statements as well as excerpts from court transcripts not only further illuminate their case but also attest to the harsh repercussions that they suffered. Their situation brought outcries of support from around the world, with admiration for their courageous stand for freedom and justice. Tributes written by a number of individuals—Yoko Ono and Bianca Jagger, among them—are included in this succinct yet powerful and thought-provoking book.
Verdict Essential reading for feminists, human rights advocates, and artists within the activist sphere. Anyone interested in contemporary politics and protest in a complex international governmental/cultural milieu will also find this of interest.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
Stuart, Andrea. Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire. Knopf. 2013. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307272836. $27.95; pap. Vintage. ISBN 9780307474544; ebk. ISBN 9780307961150. HIST
Stuart (The Rose of Martinique: A Biography of Napoleon’s Josephine) uses her own family history to flesh out the political, economic, and social history of Barbados, where she was born. Beginning with a white maternal ancestor who left England in the late 1630s, she traces her family’s mixed-race heritage to the present day. In the process, she addresses the sugar trade and slavery in Barbados, the triangle trade, and the impact of the sugar trade on Britain and the world. While Elizabeth Abbott’s Sugar: A Bittersweet History details the far-reaching story of this commodity, other recent books more broadly examine the sugar trade and slavery or focus on a different region, e.g., Richard S. Dunn’s Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies or Richard Follett’s The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves in Louisiana’s Cane World.
Verdict Although the book is well researched, a limited written record of the family forces Stuart to be hypothetical at times: she cannot provide the same level of detail for the African as for the white side of her family, owing to the weaker archival record. It’s the personal story that makes this book both powerful and especially intriguing. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the British Americas and Barbados, slavery, or family sagas.—Leslie Lewis, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh