Brennecka’s enthusiasm for meteorites will appeal to experts and novices alike.

IMPACT

HOW ROCKS FROM SPACE LED TO LIFE, CULTURE, AND DONKEY KONG

An exploration of the role meteorites played in the formation and cultural evolution of Earth.

Had Earth’s head-on collision with the meteorite named Theia not occurred exactly when it did, our planet would have evolved much differently. Brennecka, a cosmochemist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, explains that this event, and later impacts, “may have delivered the organic material from which life developed, as well as the water on Earth that sustains it.” In this highly entertaining book, filled with informative and humorous charts, diagrams, and images, the author explores this moon-forming impact as well as other historical cosmic events involving space rocks—e.g., the 1990 discovery of an impact crater in Mexico that scientists believe caused the extinction of dinosaurs. Other topics include: Christopher Columbus’ using his knowledge of an upcoming lunar eclipse to avert an uprising when he had outstayed his welcome in Jamaica, Donald Trump’s staring directly at the sun without eye protection during the 2017 solar eclipse, and how “Mark Twain was born and died on occurrences of Comet Halley.” Brennecka also examines how meteorites have played a significant role in cultural and religious teachings throughout the world, including Aboriginal lore, Greek and Roman literature, biblical studies, and Islamic tradition, and he takes us to regions around the world where large numbers have been extracted: Australia, the Sahara Desert, and Antarctica, among others. The increased availability of samples has aided countless scientists in their research about Earth’s cosmic origins, but the meteorite trade has also led to the removal of objects that were treated as sacred by Indigenous peoples and made it difficult for research groups working on tight budgets. “Regardless of the discussion about the morality and business of meteorites,” writes the author, “meteorite monetization has been both a blessing and a curse for meteorite researchers.”

Brennecka’s enthusiasm for meteorites will appeal to experts and novices alike.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-307892-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

THE CONTAGION NEXT TIME

The Covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off catastrophe. An epidemiologist presents a cogent argument for a fundamental refocusing of resources on “the foundational forces that shape health.”

In this passionate and instructive book, Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, writes that Covid emerged because we have long neglected basic preventative measures. “We invest vast amounts of money in healthcare,” he writes, “but comparatively little in health.” Readers looking to learn how governments (mainly the U.S.) mishandled the pandemic have a flood of books to choose from, but Galea has bigger issues to raise. Better medical care will not stop the next epidemic, he warns. We must structure a world “that is resilient to contagions.” He begins by describing the current state of world health, where progress has been spectacular. Global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Malnutrition, poverty, and child mortality have dropped. However, as the author stresses repeatedly, medical progress contributed far less to the current situation than better food, clean water, hygiene, education, and prosperity. That’s the good news. More problematic is that money is a powerful determinant of health; those who have it live longer. Galea begins the bad news by pointing out the misleading statistic that Covid-19 kills less than 1% of those infected; that applies to young people in good health. For those over 60, it kills 6%, for diabetics, over 7%, and those with heart disease, over 10%. It also kills more Blacks than Whites, more poor than middle-class people, and more people without health insurance. The author is clearly not just interested in Covid. He attacks racism, sexism, and poverty in equal measure, making a plea for compassion toward stigmatized conditions such as obesity and addiction. He consistently urges the U.S. government, which has spared no expense and effort to defeat the pandemic, to do the same for social injustice.

An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-757642-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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