Science & Technology Reviews, April 1, 2012

Gibson, Rosemary & Janardan Prasad Singh. The Battle Over Health Care: What Obama’s Reform Means for America’s Future. Rowman & Littlefield. Apr. 2012. c.190p. ISBN 9781442214491. $26. MED

Health-care expert Gibson and World Bank economist Singh (coauthors, Wall of Silence: The Untold Story of the Medical Mistakes That Kill and Injure Millions of Americans) have produced a timely, cogent analysis of the high-stakes debate over health-care reform legislation. Veterans of conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, the authors parse critical policy concerns in this well-reasoned five-part book. Part 1 addresses the expedient political deals made by the Obama administration and the health-care industry that resulted in a significantly compromised version of the legislation. Part 2 cautions that the current health-care system cannot accommodate the increase in newly insured patients. In Part 3, the authors analogize the collapse of the banking industry and the imminent collapse of the health-care industry, both fueled by dangerous bubbles. Part 4 ties economic security to health-care security, while Part 5 asserts that, like its finance counterpart, the health-care industry privatizes gains and socializes losses. Finally, the authors advocate careful pruning of the enormous inefficiency and waste in health care. VERDICT A provocative, informative book directed toward a general audience, but especially policymakers and health-care professionals. It’s certain to appeal to readers of such books as Paul Starr’s Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle Over Health Care Reform.‚ Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA

starred review star Teresi, Dick. The Undead: Organ Harvesting, The Ice-Water Test, Beating-Heart Cadavers‚ How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death. Pantheon. 2012. c.368p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780375423710. $26.95. MED

Few if any of the numerous recent books on end-of-life care combine humor, learning, and insight as Teresi (Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science) does here. By exploring how death has been determined from ancient times through modern Western medicine, he shows that some tests for death are not always foolproof. He argues that the possibility of organ donation has changed how we define death and shows the sometimes forceful recruitment tactics of procurement agencies. While the book discusses how the 1968 Ad Hoc Committee of Harvard Medical School influentially defined brain death, several other works have covered it in more depth. Teresi also includes sometimes moving personal stories of friends who struggled with end-of-life issues, putting a human face on the debates. VERDICT By combining learning and humor in an accessible format, this book is a good introduction to the medical, biological, and social conditions related to end-of-life care. Teresi will make you laugh, groan, and question what you think you know. An accessible but illuminating introduction to current questions in end-of-life care. [See Prepub Alert, 9/11/11.]‚ A.W. Klink, Duke Univ., Durham, NC

Robbins, Jim. The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan To Save the Planet. Spiegel & Grau. Apr. 2012. c.256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781400069064. $25. NAT HIST

Robbins (A Symphony in the Brain: The Evolution of the New Brain Wave Biofeedback) offers a wide range of case studies on different tree species and ancient growth forests that are now in peril but that are also undergoing conservation efforts. He makes persuasive arguments regarding the health, economic, and ecological value of forests as well as the need to preserve the DNA of the world’s longest-surviving trees. The book follows lifelong nursery worker David Milarch as he works alongside leading scientists to take stock of the heartiest trees and add their genetic code to his nonprofit, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. Robbins explains some phenomena, like trees’ magnetic fields, as spiritual or beyond the realm of science, as do Jim Conroy and Basia Alexander in Tree Whispering: A Nature Lover’s Guide to Touching, Healing, and Communicating with Trees, Plants, and All of Nature.

The following titles are reviewed in the April 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Horwood, Catherine. Women and Their Gardens: A History from the Elizabethan Era to Today. Ball Pub: Chicago Review, dist. by IPG. Apr. 2012. c.448p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781613743379. $26.95. GARDENING

Health & Medicine

Barnett, Larkin. Practical Centering: Exercises To Energize Your Chakras for Relaxation, Vitality, and Health. Quest. Apr. 2012. ISBN 9780835609036. pap. $15.95. HEALTH

Healy, David. Pharmageddon. Univ. of California. 2012. c.328p. index. ISBN 9780520270985. $39.95. MED

Kinzel, Lesley. Two Whole Cakes: How To Stop Dieting and Learn To Love Your Body. Feminist Pr., dist. by Consortium. Apr. 2012. c.176p. ISBN 9781558617933. pap. $14.95. HEALTH

Levine, Peter A. & Maggie Phillips. Freedom from Pain: Discover Your Body’s Power To Overcome Physical Pain. Sounds True. Apr. 2012. c.200p. ISBN 9781604076639. pap. $17.95 with CD. HEALTH

Reid, Alexandra & Marshall Reid. Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Family Plan to a Healthier Family. Sourcebooks. Apr. 2012. c.192p. ISBN 9781402265822. pap. $16.99. HEALTH

Reynolds, Gretchen. The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer. Hudson Street. Apr. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9781594630934. $25.95. HEALTH

Home Economics

Bastianich, Joe. Restaurant Man. Viking. May 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780670023523. $27.95. COOKING

Dryansky, G.Y. with Joanne Dryansky. Coquilles, Calva & Crème: Exploring France’s Culinary Heritage; A Love Affair with French Food. Pegasus. Jun. 2012. c.360p. illus. ISBN 9781605983295. $28.95. COOKING

Kaminsky, Peter. Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well). Knopf. May 2012. c.272p. index. ISBN 9780307593375. $24.95. COOKING

Polisi, Wendy. The Quintessential Quinoa Cookbook: Eat Great, Lose Weight, Feel Healthy. Skyhorse, dist. by Norton. Apr. 2012. 224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781616085353. $17.95. COOKING


Bearzi, Maddalena. Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2012. c.224p. illus. index. ISBN 9780226040158. $26. NAT HIST

Fortey, Richard. Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind. Knopf. Apr. 2012. c.352p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307263612. $28.95. NAT HIST

Hazen, Robert M. The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet. Viking. May 2012. c.303p. index. ISBN 9780670023554. $27.95. SCI

Lanza, Michael. Before They’re Gone: A Family’s Year-Long Quest To Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks. Beacon, dist. by Random. Apr. 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9780807001196. $24.95. SCI

Steyer, Sébastien (text) & Alain Bénéteau (illus.). Earth Before the Dinosaurs. Indiana Univ. Aug. 2012. c.204p. tr. from French by Chris Spence. illus. ISBN 9780253223807. pap. $35. SCI

Wilber, Tom. Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale. Cornell Univ. May 2012. c.272p. index. ISBN 9780801450167. $27.95. SCI