An informative retrospective of medical pioneers and their innovations.



A physician and medical journalist describe 10 clinical cases that helped to revolutionize medicine.

Tanchanco found an early inspiration for this book in a story he’d read about a heart failure patient whose life was saved by the 1958 invention of an implantable pacemaker rudimentarily molded from a can of shoe polish. The author then sought out other accounts of patients whose cases had spurred breakthrough therapies, treatments, and lifesaving devices and essentially become medical game-changers. He begins with Benjamin Jesty, an English farmer who controversially experimented with introducing the cowpox virus into human tissue in the late 1770s, hoping to initiate an immune response against smallpox. Jesty didn’t publicize his work, but physician Edward Jenner did, and Jenner usually gets the credit for developing the vaccine. The book features other historical medical revolutionaries like English obstetrician James Blundell, responsible for developing successful blood transfusion techniques that turned the formerly stigmatized procedure into a lifesaving protocol for severe hemorrhagic cases. Other chapters applaud patients who inspired breakthrough technology like the cardiac defibrillator and early advancements in the identification of HIV and treatments for AIDS. In a section notably demonstrating his knack for compelling and factual prose, Tanchanco presents young mother Anne Miller, the first woman injected with penicillin in 1942 and subsequently cured of her recurring strep infection; it was “as though the drug banished a dark demon” and “every tissue, taxed to exhaustion from protracted sepsis, now craved nourishment.” Another fascinating chapter on disease-transmitting mosquitoes credits the death-defying courage demonstrated by a group of enterprising doctors and an Army Surgeon General who used the insect itself to help analyze and eradicate yellow fever and malaria in Cuba and near the Panama Canal. Many subjects of this book suffered horribly from their maladies, but their cases inspired a host of radical therapies, some of which remain efficacious today. Tanchanco tells their stories chronologically and in a smooth, clear style that’s impeccably researched but devoid of potentially off-putting clinical jargon. That approach makes this book ideal reading for anyone intrigued by medical innovations.

An informative retrospective of medical pioneers and their innovations.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-9853937-2-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: First Hawk Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.


The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.


The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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