Science & Technology Reviews, November 15, 2011


Anderson, Allen & Linda Anderson. Animals and the Kids Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Hope, Healing, and Compassion. New World Library, dist. by PGW. (Angel Animals).Nov. 2011. c.272p. photogs. ISBN 9781577319597. pap. $14.95. PETS
In this latest addition to their Angel Animal series, the Andersons (cofounders, Angel Animal Network; coauthors, Dogs and the Women Who Love Them) have gathered stories illustrating the positive influence of animals on children facing difficult challenges. Featured are therapy animals that have touched the lives of many children, including Ricochet, a failed service dog who tandem surfs with disabled children; Simon, the disabled cat who visits inner-city children during tutoring sessions; and Caitee, the golden retriever who gives children confidence to testify in court cases. The book also highlights special family pets like Maya, a rescue dog whose previous owner passed away and who was given a second home where she aided an autistic young woman. Other stories include Cocoa Puff, the guinea pig who helped shy children learn to read, and Woodstock, the chicken who calmed an emotionally troubled child. VERDICT As in Dogs and the Women Who Love Them, the unconditional love provided by these animals shines brightly through these stories. Strongly recommended for patrons interested in animal-assisted therapy and those who enjoy sweet animal narratives.‚ Eva Lautemann, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston

Armitage, Allan M. Armitage’s Garden Perennials. 2d ed. Timber. 2011. 348p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781604690385. $49.95. GARDENING

Armitage (horticulture, Univ. of Georgia, Athens; Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardeners) is back with over 300 new perennials in this updated edition of an excellent book. Vibrant color photographs are paired with recommendations for growth and care of over 1250 plants. Armitage does not hesitate to offer candid opinions about the plants, which may occasionally be interpreted as brusque by those unfamiliar with his work. Despite this, novice gardeners will appreciate the approachability of Armitage’s style and the humorous anecdotes about his gardening experiences. Also useful for novice gardeners are his recommendations of plants for specific purposes or characteristics (e.g., drought tolerant). Master gardeners will relate to Armitage’s authority and coverage of overlooked plants. VERDICT Because of its extensive selection and candid editorial notes, this reference source is highly recommended for all levels of gardeners.‚ Melissa Mallon, Wichita State Univ. Lib., KS

Hobson, Jake. The Art of Creative Pruning: Inventive Ideas for Training and Shaping Trees and Shrubs. Timber. 2011. c.200p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781604691146. $34.95. GARDENING

For UK-based Hobson, there is more to pruning than cropping trees and shrubs into different shapes; effective pruning creates memorable landscapes. Using examples from Europe, Asia, and the United States, he explores the various methods of shaping trees and shrubs including topiary, cloud pruning, and niwaki (Hobson studied Japanese nursery methods in Japan). While the focus of the book is more the philosophy behind these different pruning methods, Hobson includes practical tips on how to achieve the results. VERDICT Libraries already well stocked with titles such as Christopher Brickell and David Joyce’s The American Horticultural Society Pruning & Training or Lewis Hill and Penelope O’Sullivan’s The Pruning Answer Book will find Hobson’s gorgeously illustrated, more philosophical book a good counterpart to those more nuts-and-bolts guides. Written with passion, verve, and a dash of dry wit, this title will inspire any gardener who wants to understand the how and why of creative pruning before picking up the shears and hacking off branches.‚ John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ

Pearse, Emma. Sophie: The Incredible True Story of the Castaway Dog. Da Capo Lifelong. Feb. 2012. c.320p. photogs. maps. ISBN 9780738214672. $25. PETS
This emotionally uplifting saga of a Queensland, Australia, family who lost overboard their beloved blue heeler dog, Sophie, while on a weekend boating trip reflects the strength and loyal spirit of these people and canines. Journalist Pearse writes of how the Griffiths were sure Sophie could never have survived the over-five-mile swim in heavy storm currents and shark-infested waters to the nearest islands, but their pampered but hardy family pet somehow made it to a nearby inhospitable, uninhabited island. Facing dehydration and starvation, a desperate Sophie plunged back into the ocean two months later and braved the long swim to neighboring St. Bees island, a large nature preserve with only 14 inhabitants. Concern for the safety of the rare, indigenous koala population on St. Bees meant that, by law, the wary and reclusive Sophie’s days were numbered unless she could be safely relocated. Nearly five months after her disappearance, the Griffiths were stunned to learn that a dog found on St. Bees could be their cherished Sophie. VERDICT Animal lovers and survival story enthusiasts will enjoy this riveting, true story, told with strong local flavor.‚ Susan Riley, Mount Kisco P.L., NY

Health & Medicine

Becker, Tanya & Jennifer Maanavi. The Physique 57 Solution: The Groundbreaking 2-Week Plan for a Lean, Beautiful Body. Grand Central Life & Style. Jan. 2012. c.304p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780446585330. $25.99. HEALTH

Physique 57’s studios in New York City, the Hamptons, and Beverly Hills have made this exercise and diet program popular among the well-to-do. (Most of us in the hinterlands only know of it through television and magazines.) Essentially, the exercises are designed to sculpt the figure by exercising various parts of the body separately rather than all at once. Some familiar exercises have been given new names, and the workouts are done to music, which emphasizes their connection to the Lotte Berk method of conditioning for ballet dancers. The program operates on the theory of interval training, where short bursts of high-intensity work alternate with periods of lower intensity or rest. This burns calories efficiently but is not as good for your cardiovascular system as a long, sustained, moderate workout. The diet emphasizes organic foods, especially greens and grains, and includes several good recipes. VERDICT This will be popular in areas where the studios have a presence, but it’s not a necessary purchase.‚ Susan B. Hagloch, formerly with Tuscarawas Cty. P.L., New Philadelphia, OH

Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Our Bodies, Ourselves. 9th ed. Touchstone: S. & S. 2011. c.848p. ed. by Kiki Zeldes & others. illus. index. ISBN 9781439190661. pap. $26. HEALTH

First published in 1971, this groundbreaking resource for women’s health is available in a revised edition to celebrate its 40th anniversary. It once again offers women the most current and accessible information about all aspects of their health and sexuality. This edition omits some information on topics such as nutrition, emotional health, and medical conditions (e.g., heart disease) that affect women differently because it is available in many other resources. The book instead concentrates on the core issues featured in the original edition‚ women’s sexuality and reproductive health‚ and offers the latest information on safer sex, birth control, childbirth, menopause and aging, and relationships. It includes discussions on gender identity, domestic violence, infertility, and navigating the health-care system. The book also offers stories gathered from online discussions on the companion website ( to add personal details to the relationships chapter and introduces international contributors for a global perspective on women’s health. VERDICT This is still the bible for women’s health; an outstanding resource that belongs in all health collections.‚ Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., CA

Chow, Kam Thye. Advanced Thai Yoga Massage: Postures and Energy Pathways for Healing. Healing Arts: Inner Traditions. Nov. 2011. c.216p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781594774270. pap. $24.95. HEALTH

Chow (Thai Yoga Massage; Thai Yoga Therapy for Your Body) follows up his previous guides with more easy-to-follow postures and modalities. In his latest offering, practitioners learn how to appropriately integrate the body’s ten sen lines, or energy points, in their sessions. Therapists are shown how to do Ayurvedic marma therapy and sen-line energy work through yoga asanas, stretches, and massage techniques. Helpful detailed illustrations diagram sen-line locations and treatment properties. Chow also gives massage protocols and provides a 60-minute treatment plan for back, neck, and shoulder pain; anxiety and depression; tired arms and hands; and other common ailments. Though geared toward students, this is an excellent manual for anyone interested in Thai yoga massage. The concepts are clearly explained and the accompanying full-page photographs are a perfect complement. VERDICT An essential title for practitioners. Others, if not inspired to do bodywork, will at least learn a lot about the amazing curative benefits of Thai yoga massage.‚ Ajoke Kokodoko, Oakland P.L., CA

Hunter, John, M.D. Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The Essential Guide to Controlling Crohn’s Disease, Colitis and Other IBDs. Vermillion: Random UK, dist. by Trafalgar Square. 2011. c.256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780091935085. pap. $19.95. HEALTH

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 1.4 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This book serves as a resource for patients to understand and manage this complex disease. Hunter (medicine, Cranfield Univ., UK; Solve Your Food Intolerance) begins by explaining what IBD is and includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other related conditions. He goes on to outline IBD’s causes, symptoms, and methods of diagnosis, including descriptions of various tests and procedures. Chapters on diet describe how it affects IBD, what foods to avoid, drug therapy, and examples of food diaries. Hunter also reviews IBD’s complications, surgical procedures, and living with IBD, as well as probiotics and prebiotics. This well-written book advises that experiences with IBD will differ from patient to patient, yet you can live a normal life with the right therapy. VERDICT While the book includes a contacts section, it features only organizations based in the UK. One title with resources appropriate for an American audience is Anil Minocha and Christine Adamec’s The Encyclopedia of the Digestive System and Digestive Disorders. Still, a good read on IBD. Recommended.‚ Rebecca Raszewski, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.

Martin, Joseph B. Alfalfa to Ivy: Memoir of a Harvard Medical School Dean. Univ. of Alberta. 2011. c.392p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9781551957005. pap. $34.95. MED
Martin (neurobiology, Harvard Medical Sch.) gives readers a look into his remarkable life: from growing up in a farming community in rural Alberta, Canada, to becoming a medical doctor, to serving as the dean of Harvard Medical School. Martin details his early history, acceptance into medical school, education, residency, and career as a doctor and researcher, as well as his family life. He describes the issues, complexities, and internal politics of working in a major academic health center. The author concludes with advice to younger colleagues who may wish to pursue a career in academic medical leadership. Pictures throughout of family, friends, colleagues, and places enhance the text. VERDICT This well-written and absorbing memoir is recommended for physicians, medical students, and those interested in medical biographies, medical history, genetics, or Huntington’s disease research.‚ Dana Ladd, Virginia Commonwealth Univ. Libs., Richmond

Swazey, Judith P. Merger Games: The Medical College of Pennsylvania, Hahnemann University, and the Rise and Fall of the Allegheny Healthcare System. Temple Univ. Dec. 2011. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439907177. $49.50. MED

Swazey (social & behavioral sciences, Boston Univ. Schs. of Medicine & Public Health) writes a detailed history of Sherif Abdelhak, CEO of the Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation (AHERF), and his company’s purchase of the Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann University, which AHERF attempted to merge as a new school of public health. This merger eventually collapsed, and Drexel University stepped in to save the educational institutions. Swazey’s account reveals the difficulty of merging the nonprofit, for-profit, and medical education cultures of American health care. She shows how a combination of corporate hubris, ambitious vision, and the sheer complexity of the merger‚ with its many players and multiple allegiances‚ doomed it to fail. The book demonstrates on a micro level the complexity of American health care, showing how on-the-ground considerations are driven by larger policy goals. VERDICT Specialists in health policy and affairs, as well as those in health-care administration fields, will find this book an informative read; too local and specialized for general readers.‚ Aaron Klink, Duke Univ., Durham, NC

Wheelwright, Jeff. The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess: Race, Religion, and DNA. Norton. Jan. 2012. c.304p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780393081916. $26.95. HEALTH
Wheelwright (The Irritable Heart: The Medical Mystery of the Gulf War ) introduces his readers to a newly identified cancer cluster among Hispanos, descendents of the original Spanish settlers of the American Southwest who arrived as early as 500 years ago. Shonnie Medina, a dark-haired Hispano beauty who looked like a storybook Indian princess, and her tragic early death from breast cancer is Wheelwright’s focus. Through Shonnie and her family, Wheelwright explores Hispano religion and culture; their typical ancestral mix of European, African, and Native American DNA; and their surprising Jewish genetic links now attributed to conversos who left the Spanish Inquisition’s horrors for the New World. Shonnie’s ultimately futile quest for a cure for her cancer through natural healing is paralleled by geneticist Harry Ostrer’s explorations of heritable diseases among Jewish populations and historian Stanley Hordes’s controversial search for hidden Jewish links among New Mexico’s Hispano population. VERDICT Wheelwright treats the Medina family with warm respect. His compelling narrative will enlighten his readers about the scientific and social dimensions of genetics and the ambiguous genetic links to race and ethnicity.‚ Kathy Arsenault, St. Petersburg, FL

Home Economics

Aldrich, Beth with Eve Adamson. Real Moms Love To Eat: How To Conduct a Love Affair with Food and Still Look Fabulous. NAL: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780451235589. pap. $15. COOKING

Certified healthy lifestyle counselor and nutrition expert, Aldrich is also a real mom who loves food. She views eating as a sensual experience and, with Adamson (frequent Bethenny Frankel coauthor), presents her ten-week plan in an intimate, perky style. She refers to her readers as girls, which unfortunately implies that real dads are not invited. There are many good ideas here for changing to a more healthful diet. Chapters include Get Naked with Raw Foods, Find Your Sweet Spot, and Taming the Food Cravings Dragon. A number of recipes are included, such as the Green Smoothie (made with mixed greens or green meal powder) to start the day. Aldrich encourages readers to take care of themselves so they can take better care of their kids. VERDICT As for digital moms, there seems to be a current market for books for real moms. A great choice for members of the I don’t know how she does it school; the many recipes and health information make this a good value for the price.‚ Barb Kundanis, Longmont P.L., Boulder, CO

Taylor, Mikki. Commander in Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady. Atria: S. & S. Nov. 2011. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781439196724. $26.99. PERSONAL GROOMING
Essence editor at large and president of her own branding and consulting firm, Taylor brings more than three decades of expertise and experience to her second book (after Self-Seduction: Your Ultimate Path to Inner and Outer Beauty). Her diverse media career also includes hosting Makeover Manor and numerous television appearances (The View; Today). Taylor has long advocated a beauty-from-the-inside-out philosophy and here uses Michelle Obama as inspiration for readers. She deconstructs various aspects of fashion and personal beauty, framing her advice first by examining the First Lady’s choices and then by explaining how other women can follow them. From naming specific brands to offering personal words of wisdom, Taylor reaches out to women who recognize the importance of health, hard work, and attention to detail. Her conversational tone feels like advice from a good friend. VERDICT Appropriately, the hair and makeup recommendations are geared toward women of color; the fashion and general wellness advice is appropriate for all women. Recommended, along with Kate Betts’s Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style.‚ Meagan P. Storey, Virginia Beach


Courland, Robert. Concrete Planet: The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World’s Most Common Man-Made Material. Prometheus. Nov. 2011. c.416p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781616144814. $26. SCI

A historian of San Francisco, Courland (The Fairmont: The First Century of a San Francisco Landmark) has taken on the gargantuan task of making the history of concrete interesting for a lay audience. Beginning before recorded history, the book covers the material’s milestones through evolutions and devolutions in concrete chemistry and its use in the construction of buildings. Not technical, the book covers major people and places involved in the history of concrete up until the mid-20th century. While Roman uses of concrete are well known to many, the accomplishments of other civilizations and eras are brought to light here. Courland’s coverage of the modern period is overly American-centric, which is unfortunate given the global history of the material. The amazing developments achieved in the past few decades in concrete design and construction are also not discussed. Courland focuses more on historical figures than structures, an approach that will appeal to some and turn off others. The book is adequately illustrated, but more images would have improved it. VERDICT While chock-full of insight, the information presented feels too much like armchair research rather than on-the-ground reporting; readers don’t get a sense of the splendor of historical concrete structures that remain with us today.‚ James A. Buczynski, Seneca Coll. of Applied Arts & Technology Libs., Toronto

Gallagher, Winifred. New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. c.256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594203206. $25.95. SCI

Have you ever wondered why humans, as a species, are so attracted to novel experiences? Gallagher (House Thinking: A Room-by-Room Look at How We Live) brings her talents to the topic of neophilia‚ the love of novelty. She suggests that, from an evolutionary standpoint, attention to change, interest in new experiences, and adaptability are hallmarks of our species. She also explores individual behaviors concerning novelty and risk-taking and investigates the ways that society and environment affect one’s attitude toward novelty. Considering experiences that range from video games to consumer food preferences, this book is an engaging, enjoyable read. The section that treats the complex interaction of nature and nurture as related to neophilia is particularly interesting. VERDICT An accessible, well- researched work that crosses a variety of disciplines and will satisfy scientifically curious readers. It will appeal to those who enjoy Stephen Jay Gould and Oliver Sacks.‚ Carla H. Lee, Univ. of Virginia Lib., Charlottesville

Gribbin, John. Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique. Wiley. Dec. 2011. c.256p. index. ISBN 9781118147979. $25.95. SCI

This book’s title exaggerates the author’s argument about the rarity of life in the universe: Gribbin (astronomy, Univ. of Sussex, UK; In Search of the Multiverse) claims only that intelligent life in the Milky Way galaxy (not the entire universe) is almost certainly limited to Earth. Since there are billions of galaxies in the visible universe (and possibly an infinite number beyond the reach of our instruments), his carefully limited claim is sensible. He presents a formidable array of evidence from astronomy, astrophysics, geology, and evolutionary biology to support his basic assertion. Gribbin’s definition of intelligent life on Earth includes only Homo sapiens, so he is weighing the likelihood that species on other planets within the local galaxy have intelligence equaling or exceeding that of humans. His case is well presented, but the odds may shift in the next few decades as more data are gathered on the Earthlike planets outside our solar system. VERDICT Gribbin is a veteran author of popular science books; this new volume should be of great interest for all readers curious about the possibility of life beyond our own planet. Strongly recommended.‚ Jack W. Weigel, formerly with Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor

McNeil, Bryan T. Combating Mountaintop Removal: New Directions in the Fight Against Big Coal. Univ. of Illinois. Nov. 2011. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780252036439. $45. SCI

The phrase the rest of the story comes to mind while reading this anthropological study‚ cum‚ personal essay about the impact of big coal on community life and the environment in southern West Virginia. The story of mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR) occasionally makes its way into the news, but the details of its impact on local politics, economies, society, and culture are usually too complex and subtle to fit into a sound bite. Using verbatim interviews, government and other documents, and his own carefully recorded observations, McNeil (anthropology, American Univ.) describes the work of local activists and community members in their efforts to save their communities as well as the countryside they inhabit. He argues that neoliberalism‚ the ideology that underpins economic globalism and emphasizes the marketplace, competition, and private-property rights‚ has spread from business to governments, universities, and agencies. In doing so, these entities have lost sight of the good of the community and look only to the good of the individual. This shift in ideology helped big coal access West Virginia’s mineral resources while further impoverishing the residents who live there. VERDICT A book for all concerned readers who want to learn what MTR means to the people it most impacts.‚ Linda Loos Scarth, formerly with Mount Mercy Coll. Lib., Cedar Rapids, IA

Neubauer, Raymond, L. Evolution and the Emergent Self: The Rise of Complexity and Behavioral Versatility in Nature. Columbia Univ. Dec. 2011. c.352p. illus. index. ISBN 9780231150705. $32.50. SCI
To Neubauer (biology, Univ. of Texas), versatility is more than just a personal virtue: it is the product of a natural evolutionary strategy that leads, perhaps inevitably, toward biological complexity on this or on any other planet where life gains a foothold. For a species to adapt to a changing environment or variable conditions, it must command a great deal of information within itself‚ not only in its DNA, genes, and neurons but also in its culture and society. As Neubauer shows, this is true for Homo sapiens as well as for other big-brained species like chimpanzees, crows, dolphins, and elephants. If life evolves everywhere in the direction of increased complexity then, he concludes, it is entirely possible that intelligent life must occur wherever in the universe conditions are conducive to its emergence. VERDICT This fascinating, big-picture discussion takes several huge leaps but remains consistent in its basic assessment of how evolution works. On the book’s final page, Neubauer writes: The view of nature presented here proposes that a person stands at the apex of nature. To many evolutionary theorists, this concept is anathema. A book that will likely be controversial among academics, it is sure to find receptive niches among nonscientist readers.‚ Gregg Sapp, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Tumwater, WA

Shepherd, Gordon M. Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters. Columbia Univ. Dec. 2011. c.272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780231159104. $24.95. SCI
Most assume that we perceive flavor based on our sense of taste, but scientific studies have shown that taste is much more complicated than that. The flavors we enjoy are actually the result of the interaction of several of our senses, with retronasal smell (smell from the back of the mouth to the nasal passage) providing the primary input to our brain. In addition to smell, taste, touch, vision, and hearing, our ability to interpret flavors is also influenced by memory, emotion, and language. Shepherd (neurobiology, Yale Univ.) provides extensive detail on the complex neurological pathways that create flavor and the many ways the brain influences individual flavor preferences. A full understanding of flavor provides new insights that nutritionists may find useful in combating ongoing dietary problems including obesity and failure of the elderly to thrive. VERDICT Shepherd attempts to simplify the science, but the biochemistry and physiology can still be a tough read. Those who make the effort will be rewarded: they’ll never look at eating the same way again.‚ Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib.

Stein, Matthew. When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival. Chelsea Green. Nov. 2011. c.400p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781603583220. pap. $24.95. SCI

This handbook tries to explain everything readers need to know to survive weather-related, earthquake, electromagnetic pulse, and nuclear emergencies. Sadly, Stein (When Technology Fails) uses the book to promote his own quirky beliefs, such as the use of colloidal silver, an unproven homeopathic elixir, as a medical cure-all. Much of the text is merely expanded lists of things to remember or what to pack when preparing for disaster. It is filled with statements of general knowledge (a good sleeping bag will keep you warm, even in severely cold temperatures) that make the text needlessly long. Sidebars throughout detail the author’s or his friends’ experiences with survival and disaster but add little value. Occasional chapters begin with long quotes predicting or recounting disaster experiences that serve only to alarm. Some readers will find offensive the section on animal trapping. Stein is a building contractor and survivalist who writes apocalyptic works like this one. VERDICT This would serve well as emergency campfire fuel; otherwise, it’s not recommended.‚ Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver

Tyson, Neil deGrasse. Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. Norton. 2011. c.384p. ed. by Avis Lang. index. ISBN 9780393082104. $26.95. SCI
This collection highlights Tyson’s (director, Hayden Planetarium; The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet) writings from 1986 to 2011, including Natural History magazine’s Universe columns, interviews, articles, tweets, and even a poem. Organized in parts‚ Why, How, and Why Not‚ the book covers the history, politics, science, and wonder of space exploration. It opens with a new essay lamenting the increasing lag in U.S. space exploration and closes with informative tables on a number of other countries’ space budgets. Even at the height of spending in 1966, the United States spent less than one percent of gross domestic product on space. Tyson is an articulate popularizer of astrophysics, and many will recognize him from TV shows like NOVA and The Universe. His writing style, while necessarily a bit technical, is as engaging as his screen presence. VERDICT Young adult and adult readers, those interested in science and space exploration, and those opposed to or confused by the race to space will all be stimulated by this readable text. [See Prepub Alert, 8/15/11.]‚ Sara Tompson, Univ. of Southern California Libs., Los Angeles



  1. Beth Aldrich says:

    Thank you Barb Kundanis, for the lovely review of my book, Real Moms Love to Eat. It’s an honor to be included. Thank you for the thumbs up, for moms everywhere.