Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MURDER, INC. by Gerald M. Goldhaber Kirkus Star


How Unregulated Industry Kills or Injures Thousands of Americans Every Year…and What You Can Do About It

by Gerald M. Goldhaber

Pub Date: March 11th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-946384-84-3
Publisher: Publish Your Purpose Press

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.