Science & Technology Reviews, April 15, 2012

starred review star Bennett, Amanda. The Cost of Hope: The Story of a Marriage, a Family, and the Quest for Life. Random. Jun. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9781400069842. $26. HEALTH

Pulitzer Prize‚ winning journalist Bennett (executive editor, Bloomberg News) presents a beautifully written memoir of her marriage to her eccentric husband and fellow journalist, Terence Foley, and his long battle with an obscure form of kidney cancer. Along with the touching love story, Bennett addresses the agony and complexity of dealing with a long-term illness as the couple move from one specialist to another and across the United States. After Terence’s death, Bennett began to reconstruct their odyssey by examining a multitude of paperwork from different hospitals and insurance companies as well as interviewing her husband’s many physicians. VERDICT It is not news that our hospitals and health-care delivery systems are costly and complex. What makes this book special is the factual, levelheaded, and personal retelling of an ever-more-common experience‚ the long treatment of a fatal illness and, eventually, death. Bennett’s diligence and graceful reconstruction of the happy days as well as her often confusing and difficult time as her husband was dying make for moving reading. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]‚ Olga B. Wise, Austin, TX

starred review star Gubar, Susan. Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer. Norton. Apr. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780393073256. $24.95. HEALTH

Prominent feminist and literary scholar Gubar (coauthor, The Madwoman in the Attic) here recounts an ordeal that began with organ-removal (debulking) surgery intended to save her life. The story of her battle is every bit as gritty as Gilda Radner’s It’s Always Something, and Gubar masters the honest, from-the-gut sharing that is the basis of any good memoir. Equal parts emotional examination and graphic descriptions of medical procedures, Gubar’s account will leave readers wondering whether the surgery she underwent is worth it as its results are still generally low (though higher) survival rates. Particularly disturbing are the unflinching discussions of her ostomy and its attendant misery and humiliation. VERDICT Beautifully written, this book is replete with literary references and poetic imagery. Gubar’s compassion for cancer patients and for women in particular makes it a must-read for both groups. (NB: Though Gubar expresses qualms about infecting the spirits of fellow cancer patients, her wrenching and fear-inducing story may do just that.) [See Prepub Alert, 10/21/11.]‚ Linda F. Petty, Wimberley, TX

starred review star Proctor, Robert N. Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition. Univ. of California. 2012. c.752p. illus. index. ISBN 9780520270169. $49.95. HEALTH

Proctor (history of science, Stanford Univ.; Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Know & Don’t Know About Cancer) indicts the tobacco industry‚ often citing its own documents‚ for mass murder on a global scale. Cigarette use, he demonstrates, exploded in the early 20th century after safety matches, flue-cured tobacco, and mechanized production became widespread. Cigarettes were suddenly cheap and convenient, and lung cancers, formerly rare, became increasingly common as the first generations of smokers aged. To keep profits flowing, the industry exploited loopholes in scientific studies and laws restricting tobacco use. It spent lavishly on political influence and academic experts who defended the industry in spite of the approximately 100 million deaths attributable to cigarettes in the 20th century. With seven trillion cigarettes still smoked each year worldwide, Proctor posits numerous ways to reduce nicotine addiction. VERDICT This book expands Allan M. Brandt’s The Cigarette Century and Richard Kluger’s Ashes to Ashes with a global view of the havoc wrought by the cigarette industry. With exhaustive research and an accessible style, Proctor makes a damning case, thought-provoking for both scholars and serious general readers.‚ Kathy Arsenault,
St. Petersburg, FL

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

Health & Medicine

Pringle, Peter. Experiment Eleven: Dark Secrets Behind the Discovery of a Wonder Drug. Walker. May 2012. c.288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780802717740. $26. MED

Home Economics

Kindstedt, Paul S. Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization. Chelsea Green. Apr. 2012. c.256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781603584111. $24.95. COOKING

Primeau, Liz. In Pursuit of Garlic: An Intimate Look at the Divinely Odorous Bulb. Greystone: Douglas & McIntyre, dist. by PGW. Apr. 2012. c.192p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781553656012. pap. $16.95. COOKING

Rosenstrach, Jenny. Dinner: A Love Story; It All Begins at the Family Table. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. c.336p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780062080905. $27.99. COOKING

Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children. Cleis Pr. May 2012. c.240p. ed. by Rachel Pepper. ISBN 9781573447881. pap. $16.95. CHILD REARING

Urban, Mike. Lobster Shacks: A Road-Trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints. Countryman, dist. by Norton. Jun. 2012. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780881509991. pap. $18.95. COOKING


Felt, Hali. Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor. Holt. Jul. 2012. c.352p. illus. ISBN 9780805092158. $27.50. SCI

Firestein, Stuart. Ignorance: How It Drives Science. Oxford Univ. May 2012. c.208p. index. ISBN 9780199828074. $21.95. SCI

Roberts, Callum. The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea. Viking. May 2012. c.416p. index. ISBN 9780670023547. $30. SCI

Schrempp, Gregory. The Ancient Mythology of Modern Science: A Mythologist Looks (Seriously) at Popular Science Writing. McGill-Queen’s Univ. Apr. 2012. c.320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780773539891. $29.95. SCI

Stewart, Ian. In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World. Basic Bks: Perseus. 2012. c.352p. illus. index. ISBN 9780465029730. $26.99. MATH

Sykes, Bryan. DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America. Liveright: Norton. May 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780871404121. $27.95. SCI