Science & Technology Reviews, February 15, 2012

starred review star Brawley, Otis Webb, M.D., with Paul Goldberg. How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America. St. Martin’s. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780312672973. $25.99. MED

Brawley’s (medicine, Emory Univ.; chief medical officer, America Cancer Society) dual perspective as both a rigorous scientist and a compassionate practicing physician illuminates this powerful account of the best and worst aspects of this country’s medical care. He illustrates these issues with stories of actual patients he has treated throughout his career at distinguished hospitals, including Atlanta’s Grady Hospital and the National Cancer Institute. He describes tragedies caused by overtreatment administered by financially self-interested doctors, the dangerous side effects of questionable (though heavily advertised) drugs, and the misguided wishes of relatives who insist that everything be done‚ even painful, invasive treatments and tests‚ for dying patients with no viable options left. Interspersed with these stories are tributes to the teachers and mentors who shaped Brawley’s admirable vision. VERDICT Brawley challenges readers with his calls for strict scientific standards for medical treatments and a national commitment to caring and effective medical care for all our citizens. Thoughtfully argued and compellingly readable, this book will reward both general readers and health-care professionals interested in health policy.‚ Kathy Arsenault, St. Petersburg, FL

starred review star Nattrass, Nicoli. The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back. Columbia Univ. Mar. 2012. c.256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780231149129. $34.50. MED

Nattrass (economics, Univ. of Cape Town) here exposes the antiscience consequences of AIDS denialism and AIDS conspiracy theories. By claiming that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, denialists undermine HIV prevention work and cause more infections among adherents by influencing them not to take precautions against HIV. Thousands died in South Africa when President Thabo Mbeki advised citizens not to take anti retroviral drugs. Nattrass describes the strong social components of AIDS denialism, which typically centers on four players: the hero scientist (e.g., denialist Peter Duesberg), the cultropreneur (e.g., those who exploit HIV patients by condemning antiretroviral medicine and selling herbal remedies instead), the living icon (HIV-positive people who offer themselves as proof that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS), and the praise singer, such as those who produce films praising the denialism. VERDICT Focusing mostly on the United States and South Africa, this book is readable and compelling though written in a scholarly style. A remarkably well-argued case against unscientific approaches to AIDS and a brilliant defense of evidence-based medicine. A must-read for all who study AIDS history.‚ Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado at Denver Lib.

starred review star Seaman, Barbara with Laura Eldridge. Voices of the Women’s Health Movement. Vol. 1. 448p. ISBN 9781609804442. $21.95.

starred review star Seaman, Barbara with Laura Eldridge. Voices of the Women’s Health Movement. Vol. 2. 384p. ISBN 9781609804466. $19.95. ea. vol: Seven Stories. 2012.photogs. index. pap. MED

Seaman (1935‚ 2008), a pioneer in women’s health advocacy and an accomplished science writer, and Eldridge (coauthors, The No-Nonsense Guide to Menopause) have gathered over 200 articles documenting the history of the women’s health movement. The contributors include both historical (e.g., Sojourner Truth, Fanny Burney) and contemporary authors who represent a wide variety of disciplines. Phyllis Chesler, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and the National Women’s Health Network are featured. The many entries discuss medical, sociological, psychological, and political issues related to women’s health. Classic essays such as Betty Dodson’s Bridal Shower from her 2002 book Orgasms for Two: The Joy of Partnersex and Gloria Steinem’s 1978 article from Ms. Magazine If Men Could Menstruate appear along with discussions of parenthood, domestic violence, and harmful drugs. VERDICT A valuable work for anyone interested in the women’s health movement and an essential resource for all collections.‚ Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L.

starred review star Bejan, Adrian & J. Peder Zane. Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization. Doubleday. 2012. c.304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385534611. $27.95. SCI

Bejan (J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Duke Univ.), with the editorial assistance of Zane (journalism, St. Augustine’s Coll., Raleigh), has written a book that should be in every academic library. In 1995, Bejan first outlined the concept of constructal law, a theory of organization that studies the thermodynamics, shape, structure, and patterns of flow systems. This emergent body of knowledge has quickly developed into a new extension of physics, with applications in fields including evolution, predictability, engineering, biology, and intelligent design. Constructal first principles are a new way of investigating the world to better predict patterns and structures in systems small (e.g., the flow of water, blood, and electricity) and large (e.g., river patterns, social organizations). VERDICT Bejan’s writing is brilliant. He effectively illustrates complex ideas for a general audience, provides real-world examples, and includes scholarly notes and references. A landmark publication.‚ Ian D. Gordon, Brock Univ. Lib., St. Catharines, Ont.

The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Adelman, Charlotte & Bernard L. Schwartz. The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants; An Illustrated Guide. Ohio Univ. 2011. c.272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780821419373. pap. $26.95. GARDENING

Health & Medicine

Agus, David B., M.D. The End of Illness. Free Pr: S. & S. 2012. c.352p. illus. ISBN 9781451610178. $26. MED

Davis, Robert J. Coffee Is Good for You: From Vitamin C and Organic Foods to Low-Carb and Detox Diets, the Truth about Diet and Nutrition Claims. Perigee: Berkley. 2012. c.240p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780399537257. pap. $15. HEALTH

Hoyt, Kendall. Long Shot: Vaccines for National Defense. Harvard Univ. Feb. 2012. c.264p. index. ISBN 9780674061583. $29.95. MED

Home Economics

Levenstein, Harvey. Fear of Food: A History of Why We Worry About What We Eat. Univ. of Chicago. Mar. 2012. c.232p. illus. index. ISBN 9780226473741. $25. COOKING


Cerulli, Tovar. The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance. Pegasus. Feb. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781605982779. $26.95. SCI

Feduccia, Alan. Riddle of the Feathered Dragons: Hidden Birds of China. Yale Univ. 2012. 368p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300164350. $55. SCI

Hubbard, Scott. Exploring Mars: Chronicles from a Decade of Discovery. Univ. of Arizona. Feb. 2012. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780816521111. $45; pap. ISBN 9780816528967. $17.95. SCI

Petroski, Henry. To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Mar. 2012. c.408p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780674065840. $27.95. SCI

Rosenhouse, Jason & Laura Taalman. Taking Sudoku Seriously: The Math Behind the World’s Most Popular Pencil Puzzle. Oxford Univ. Feb. 2012. c.226p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199756568. $21.95. MATH

Sasselov, Dimitar. The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet. Basic Bks: Perseus. 2012. c.240p. illus. index. ISBN 9780465021932. $25.99. SCI

Scardina, Julie & Jeff Flocken. Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals They Are Committed to Saving. Running Pr. Mar. 2012. c.264p. illus. ISBN 9780762443192. pap. $20. SCI