Sharp, optimistic, and factually supported encouragement to boost societal attitudes about the power of salubrity.

WELL

WHAT WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HEALTH

An epidemiologist reframes the American health care crisis.

Born in Malta and raised in Canada, Galea (Dean, Boston Univ. School of Public Health; Healthier: Fifty Thoughts on the Foundations of Population Health, 2017, etc.) has traveled the world treating patients in remote areas, experiences that shaped his impressions of what truly influences health and health care, two aspects of medicine that are often conflated. He underscores global statistical trends revealing that despite leading investments in health prevention, Americans still fall short on worldwide illness ratios. Galea faults a society that “is simply not oriented to keep[ing] us healthy” and seeks to gain a better understanding of how to achieve ultimate vitality and longevity. He offers a reassessment of the many elements of sustainable health and wellness, examining a wide variety of external, interconnected forces. While acknowledging that some influences—e.g., intergenerational factors and certain environmental conditions—are unavoidable, he intensively addresses the building blocks of sustainable health while putting allegories and pop-culture references to effective use. These key pieces include creating solid financial foundations, including the use of redistributive economic programs; resisting corruption in high-level political and corporate arenas; encouraging the establishment of tightknit community networks; cultivating emotional well-being; advocating for knowledgeable personal choices that resist negative influences from social media networks, advertising, and “social contagion.” Galea believes that all of these forces collectively affect the healthfulness of Americans and that each plays a role in fostering an important brand of preventative medicine that can be cultivated at home. He implores readers to take the steps to change their minds and bodies now rather than relying on medicine or chronically seeing doctors after we are already ill. While some areas of the author’s research may seem like wishful thinking in today’s world of greed, violence, and class inequities, his hopes for a healthier populace make for a compassionate, relevant book.

Sharp, optimistic, and factually supported encouragement to boost societal attitudes about the power of salubrity.

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-19-091683-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...

EVERYTHING IS F*CKED

A BOOK ABOUT HOPE

The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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