Butler, Katy. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death. Scribner. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781451641974. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451641998. MED
Butler’s story about the deaths of her parents illustrates the good and the bad of health care in America and the need for those affected to make more informed choices. The author shares many memories of her parents so that readers will see them as real people, making their experience all the more compelling. With her father, Butler tried to get the best care she could, including help for her mother in the home, but with a health-care system that pays for interventions such as surgical procedures instead of prioritizing therapy or regular help, it was difficult. Butler makes readers question the ethics of extreme measures to prolong life and the need for discussions of living wills, DNR bracelets, and other end-of-life issues. She also makes a case for hospice or palliative care being available for all who want or need it. While Butler’s father’s death was difficult, her mother was able to die the way she wanted. VERDICT An excellent book for adult children who are concerned about their parents and anyone who wants to learn more about end-of-life choices.
Kawash, Samira. Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. Faber & Faber. Oct. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780865477568. $27. COOKING
“Demon candy, demon rum”: both alcohol and sugar have long occupied a fraught place in American culture and consciousness. We just haven’t been able to stay away from sweets, and here Kawash (emerita, women’s & gender studies, Rutgers Univ.) ably traces the history of candy making and eating since the late 1800s. She chronicles the bigger picture of candy in the United States, examining the emergence of mass-produced candy, the transition from penny candies to the dominance of the candy bar, and the backlash owing to health concerns in the latter part of the 20th century. Kawash concludes with a consideration of “candification,” the recent trend of touting fruit-flavored candy as healthy or natural. She pauses throughout to toss in treats such as the history of Halloween and a discussion of mid-20th-century candy marketing and recipe books. VERDICT Topic notwithstanding, this title is no insubstantial confection. Its thoroughness and documentation will appeal to those with an avid interest in the history of candy consumption and American culture, including academics.
Nahin, Paul J. Will You Be Alive Ten Years from Now? And Numerous Other Curious Questions in Probability. Princeton Univ. Dec. 2013. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780691156804. $27.95. MATH
Problems involving counting and probability can be challenging to even the best mathematicians. Nahin (electrical engineering, emeritus, Univ. of New Hampshire; Chases and Escapes) begins by summarizing some of the better-known historical puzzles. He then moves on to 25 lesser-known but equally compelling examples—one per chapter—in an entertaining and yet relatively rigorous style. In addition, he includes a dozen challenge problems for the reader (the solutions are provided in the back of the book). Probability questions frequently give rise to counterintuitive answers; many here fall into that category. Even supplied with the correct theoretical solutions, many of us have trouble believing them. The author names computer programs that can be used to do Monte Carlo simulations of his examples to convince us further of their correctness. VERDICT Fair warning: competence in a university-level, post-calculus course in probability is a prerequisite to understanding much of this material. Some experience with Markov Chains, difference equations, and computer literacy is also helpful. This is a wonderful book for trained math lovers who enjoy the mental stimulation provided by a good mathematics puzzle.
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Moore, Lisa Jean & Mary Kosut. Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee. New York Univ. Oct. 2013. 256p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781479827381. pap. $24. AGRI
Simon, David Robinson. Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much—and How To Eat Better, Live Longer, and Spend Smarter. Conari. Oct. 2013. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9781573246200. pap. $19.95. AGRI
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Black, Jonathan. Making the American Body: The Remarkable Saga of the Men and Women Whose Feats, Feuds, and Passions Shaped Fitness History. Univ. of Nebraska. Nov. 2013. 256p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780803243705. $27.95. HEALTH
Mackowiak, Philip A. Diagnosing Giants: Solving the Medical Mysteries of Thirteen Patients Who Changed the World. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2013. 240p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780199937776. $29.95. MED
Morris, Theresa. Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic in America. New York Univ. Oct. 2013. 256p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780814764114. $27.95. MED
Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food. Univ. of Nebraska. Nov. 2013. 272p. ed. by Peggy Wolff. illus. ISBN 9780803236455. pap. $19.95. COOKING
Masterton, Laurey. The Fresh Honey Cookbook: 84 Recipes from a Beekeeper’s Kitchen. Storey. Sept. 2013. 208p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781612120515. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781603428712. COOKING
von Bremzen, Anya. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing. Crown. Sept. 2013. 352p. photos. notes. ISBN 9780307886811. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307886835. COOKING
Wolff, Moses (text) & Volker Derlath (photos). Meet Me in Munich: A Beer Lover’s Guide to Oktoberfest. Skyhorse. Sept. 2013. 256p. tr. from German by Tobi Haberstroh. illus. ISBN 9781626362581. $19.95. BEVERAGES
Barash, David P. Buddhist Biology: Ancient Eastern Wisdom Meets Modern Western Science. Oxford Univ. Dec. 2013. 224p. notes. index. ISBN 9780199985562. $29.95. SCI
Cocker, Mark (text) & David Tipling (photos). Birds and People. Random UK. Sept. 2013. 704p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780224081740. $65. NAT HIST
Eicher, David J. Comets! Visitors from Deep Space. Cambridge Univ. Nov. 2013. 260p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781107622777. $29.99. SCI
Lederman, Leon & Christopher Hill.Beyond the God Particle. Prometheus. Oct. 2013. 340p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781616148010. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616148027. SCI
White, Christopher. The Melting World: A Journey Across America’s Vanishing Glaciers. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 384p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9780312546281. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250028853. NAT HIST
Witton, Mark P. Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy. Princeton Univ. 2013. 306p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691150611. $35. SCI
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