A safety expert’s engaging and well-written guide to hazards at home, at work, and elsewhere.

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MURDER, INC.

HOW UNREGULATED INDUSTRY KILLS OR INJURES THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS EVERY YEAR…AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

A consumer advocate sounds an alarm about everyday safety risks in this exposé of corporate and other practices that endanger Americans.

Goldhaber draws on decades of designing warning labels, consulting for government agencies, and testifying as an expert witness to reveal ongoing consumer and workplace safety problems. In chapters organized by theme—home, work, travel, recreation, and more—Goldhaber reviews cases of negligence, carelessness, and unforeseen consequences that have resulted in injury and death. Some of the situations he covers are well known, such as the Takata airbag recalls or the fatal Upper Big Branch mine explosion. Others involve hazards that have had less attention, such as the risks of inflatable bounce houses (which, he says, cause 30 injuries a day) and of microwave ovens with no or incorrect wattage labels (which can lead to unsafe food preparation). Goldhaber shows how corporate profitability has often won out over safety and why regulating manufacturers can be challenging. An especially strong chapter deals with “deeply troubling” TV commercials for prescription drugs that adhere to the letter of the law while flouting its intent—for example, by adding an “Ask your doctor” line that allows big pharma legally to avoid “the general rule that manufacturers have a duty to directly and explicitly warn end-users about the potential risks of their products.” He also describes companies that have taken the lead in providing adequate warnings and demonstrated responsible corporate behavior. The book concludes that safety is simultaneously the responsibility of corporations, the government, and ordinary Americans, and it suggests how each group can do its part, whether by producing and marketing responsibly, upholding standards, or staying informed. With well-chosen and informative anecdotes, the writing is eye-catching (“the common ladder is, for all practical purposes, a list of hazards looking for a purpose”), its messages supported by many images of product or other warning labels that Goldhaber helped to design, illustrating effective but not excessive precautionary techniques. Based on solid research and Goldhaber’s experience in the field, and introduced by the activist Erin Brockovich, this book by the author of Organizational Communication (1989) is a solid choice for both casual readers and those with a passion for safety.

A safety expert’s engaging and well-written guide to hazards at home, at work, and elsewhere.

Pub Date: March 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-946384-84-3

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Publish Your Purpose Press

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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