Science & Technology Reviews, June 1, 2012

starred review star Carter, H. Ballentine & Gerald Secor Couzens. The Whole Life Prostate Book: Everything that Every Man‚ at Every Age‚ Needs To Know About Maintaining Optimal Prostate Health. Free Pr: S. & S. Jun. 2012. c.480p. ISBN 9781451621211. $26.99. MED

There are currently 20 million men in the United States coping with various prostate-related health issues. Navigating the healthcare system can be daunting, and Carter (urology & oncology, Johns Hopkins Univ. Sch. of Medicine) and medical writer Couzens have written an outstanding manual to help these men find the best treatment. The authors cover the anatomy and physiology of the prostate gland and the various conditions related to its function as well as possible symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment options. Ballentine is thorough and his explanations are easy to understand. He includes both standard and alternative treatment options along with evidence-based information to help patients decide what to do. He emphasizes prevention, including good nutrition and fitness as well as simple things such as restricting nighttime fluid intake to reduce sleep interruption. VERDICT This comprehensive resource will be for men what Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book is for women. Highly recommended.‚ Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L.

starred review star Wasik, Bill & Monica Murphy. Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus. Viking. Jul. 2012. c.288p. index. ISBN 9780670023738. $25.95. MED

Rabies strikes terror into the hearts of humankind like few other diseases because of the way it can turn a beloved pet (or person) into a foaming, frenzied beast who will suffer an agonizing death in nearly 100 percent of cases. Many people grew up with haunting images of Old Yeller, but, as husband-and-wife team Wasik (senior editor, Wired; And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture) and Murphy, a veterinarian, demonstrate, the fear of rabies dates back to ancient times. They place the world’s deadliest virus in its historical and cultural context with a scientifically sound and compelling history that begins in ancient Mesopotamia and ends in 21st-century Bali. Highlights include chapters on Louis Pasteur, who developed the first rabies vaccine, and the few humans who have survived rabies infection. The authors also link rabies to myths and legends, including werewolves, vampires, and witches, and discuss rabies in literature and humankind’s long, close relationship with dogs. VERDICT Readable, fascinating, informative, and occasionally gruesome, this is highly recommended for anyone interested in medical history or the cultural history of disease. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]‚ Janet A. Crum, City of Hope Lib., Duarte, CA

starred review star Scharf, Caleb. Gravity’s Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos. Scientific American: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Aug. 2012. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780374114121. $26. SCI

The subtitle of this most readable book about supermassive black holes exemplifies Scharf’s (director, Columbia Astrobiology Ctr.; Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology) playful tone, similar to that in his Life, Unbounded blog for Scientific American. Several of the chapter titles also illustrate his light, accessible approach to astrophysics (e.g., The Feeding Habits of Nonillion-Pound Gorillas, as do his hand-drawn figures (e.g., The Whale’s Dilemma). In the first three chapters, Scharf offers an excellent brief history of discoveries foundational to contemporary knowledge of black holes and includes interesting biographical sketches of scientists from John Michell to Albert Einstein to Edwin Salpeter, with many in between. Explanations are clear, e.g., his discussion of the components of Einstein’s field equations. He makes apt use of metaphors and personification to describe hungry black holes of all sizes at the core of galaxies (including the rather small one at the center of the Milky Way), which devour matter and expel energy. VERDICT Highly recommended. Teen and adult fans of astronomy, as well as scientists looking for ways to explain black holes to nonscientists, will all enjoy this text.‚ Sara R. Tompson, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles

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


Bader, Sarah Berringer (text) & Janet Loughrey (photogs.). The Lavender Lover’s Handbook: The 100 Most Beautiful and Fragrant Varieties for Growing, Crafting, and Cooking. Timber. 2012. 192p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781604692211. $27.95. GARDENING

Coren, Stanley. Do Dogs Dream?: Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You To Know. Norton. Jul. 2012. c.304p. illus. index. ISBN 9780393073485. $23.95. PETS

Hatch, Peter J. A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello. Yale Univ. 2012. c.288p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300171143. $35. GARDENING

Health & Medicine

Bowers, Mary Helen. Ballet Beautiful: Transform Your Body and Gain the Strength, Grace, and Focus of a Ballet Dancer. Da Capo Lifelong. Jun. 2012. c.256p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780738215907. pap. $20. HEALTH

Davis, Charles E. The International Traveler’s Guide to Avoiding Infections. Johns Hopkins. (Johns Hopkins Press Health). 2012. c.536p. maps. index. ISBN 9781421403793. $60; pap. ISBN 9781421403809. $26.95. HEALTH

Hamilton, David. A History of Organ Transplantation: Ancient Legends to Modern Practice. Univ. of Pittsburgh. Jun. 2012. c.560p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822944133. $65. MED

Low Dog, Tieraona. Life Is Your Best Medicine: A Woman’s Guide to Health, Healing, and Wholeness at Every Age. National Geographic, dist. by Random. Sept. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781426209604. $26. HEALTH

Mukand, Jon. The Man with the Bionic Brain and Other Victories over Paralysis. Chicago Review, dist. by IPG. Jul. 2012. c.400p. photogs. ISBN 9781613740552. $26.95. MED

Quest, Penelope. Self-Healing with Reiki: How to Create Wholeness, Harmony & Balance for Body, Mind & Spirit. Tarcher: Penguin Group (USA). Jul. 2012. c.288p. illus. index. ISBN 9781585429059. pap. $17.95. HEALTH

Home Economics

Guest, Cornelia. Cornelia Guest’s Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking and Easy Entertaining. Weinstein. Jun. 2012. c.256p. illus. ISBN 9781602861626. $32.50. COOKING

Joseph, Peter (text) & Salma Khalil (photogs.). Boozy Brunch: The Quintessential Guide to Daytime Drinking. Taylor. Sept. 2012. c.152p. photogs. ISBN 9781589796782. $16.95. BEVERAGES

McClellan, Marisa. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round. Running Pr. Jun. 2012. 224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780762441433. $23. COOKING

Wong, Tama Matsuoka with Eddy Leroux (text) & Thomas Schauer (photogs.). Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market. Clarkson Potter: Crown Pub. Group. Jun. 2012. c.208p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307956613. $25. COOKING


Benson, Donald C. The Ballet of the Planets: A Mathematician’s Musings on the Elegance of Planetary Motion. Oxford Univ. 2012. c.192p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199891009. $35. SCI

Climate Central. Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas, and the Weather of the Future. Pantheon. Jul. 2012. c.240p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780307907301. $22.95. SCI

Drori, Ofir & David McDannald. The Last Great Ape: A Journey Through Africa and a Fight for the Heart of the Continent. Pegasus. 2012. c.320p. photogs. ISBN 9781605983271. $27.95. SCI

Hobbs, Carl H. The Beach Book: Science of the Shore. Columbia Univ. Jun. 2012. c.192p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780231160544. $60; pap. ISBN 9780231160551. $19.50. NAT HIST