The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in
the Here and Now.
By Thich Nhat Hanh.
June 2017. 200p. HarperOne, $25.99 (9780062434661).
Is living an art? Vietnamese Buddhist Zen
master Thich Nhat Hanh argues that it is,
though he acknowledges understanding this
is compromised by three wrong views: that
we are separate selves, that we are only our
bodies, and that what we are looking for can
be found only outside ourselves in a distant
future. The pioneer in bringing Buddhism to
the West offers three fundamental practices
to liberate people from these misunderstandings: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness.
To these he adds four other concentrations:
impermanence, noncraving, letting go, and
nirvana. He examines these at length, stressing the importance of mindfulness and the
art of breathing. Fundamental to his philosophy is the interconnectedness of the world
and the continuity of human life from past to
future. We must exist in the moment when
the art of living is, simply, “knowing how
to generate happiness at any time.” If this
exposition of Buddhist principles is occasionally redundant and reiterative—it is based on
lectures edited by his students—it is, nevertheless, a thought-provoking introduction to
them. —Michael Cart
Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s
By Manal Al-Sharif.
June 2017. 304p. Simon & Schuster, $26
In 2011, Manal Al-Sharif was arrested and
jailed for driving a car in Khobar, Saudi Ara-
bia. Her imprisonment attracted international
attention to the country’s restrictions on wom-
en. Manal’s memoir chronicles her evolution
from a fiercely religious young woman into a
champion of women’s rights and the face of
the Women2Drive movement. Though there
is no legal statute barring women from driv-
ing, Saudi culture enforces strict customs that
force women to rely on hired drivers and
male relatives to get around. Without reliable
transportation, many women are unable to
work, run basic errands, or even seek medi-
cal attention in emergencies. After her arrest,
Manal was slandered in the national press, re-
ceived death threats, and was denounced by
religious leaders. In addition to her driving,
Manal’s experiences as a young woman high-
light the many other barriers for women, such
as the requirement to have a male guardian’s
permission for most decisions. Her memoir is
an intimate look at life for women growing up
in Saudi Arabia and the challenges of seeking
major social change. —Laura Chanoux
YA: Young adults will likely appreciate
Manal’s perspective and insight into Saudi
culture and women’s rights. LC.
Inferior: How Science Got Women
Wrong—and the New Research That’s
Rewriting the Story.
By Angela Saini.
June 2017. 224p. Beacon, $25.95 (9780807071700).
Prepare to be enraged. Journalist Saini dives
deeply into gender science to find out why it
has always been assumed that women were the
weaker, thus the inferior, sex. In this deceptively slim yet exhaustively researched book,
she wastes little time on talking tough, instead
speaking on the record with male and female
scientists, perusing correspondence, describing
research, and relating the findings in dozens of
historical reports on the female sex dating back
to Darwin. Alternately bemused and appalled,
Saini hangs in there while discussing how analysis from a study of newborn babies supported
the idea that females were more empathetic
and males more mechanically minded, how the
smaller size of female brains (by five ounces)
meant for decades that they were, of course,
less intelligent, and how assertions about superior male hunting skills diminished the role
of women in the history of human survival.
In admirably subtle prose, Saini questions,
considers, and refuses to accept traditional
generalizations. A brilliant approach to a long
overlooked topic, Inferior is impossible to ignore and invaluable. —Colleen Mondor
YA: Older teens interested in science and
gender studies will be shocked by Saini’s
disclosures and inspired to learn more
about this important subject. CM.
Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes
on My Dementia.
By Gerda Saunders.
June 2017. 288p. Hachette, $27 (9780316502627);
e-book, $13.99 (9780316502634). 362.1968.
Faced with unspeakable loss, some may act
out or give up. Saunders chose to write. Af-
ter she was diagnosed at 60 with dementia,
she left her career in academia and embarked
on writing about her experience in a last
stand of the mind. Those
writings evolved into this
deeply emotional and hum-
bling memoir. From her
childhood in South Africa
through her family’s move
to the U.S. and her mother’s
own struggles with demen-
tia, Saunders recounts a
rich, full life before her illness began steal-
ing her memory. In poignant journal entries,
she captures the intrusion of dementia into
everyday life—getting lost, enduring danger-
ous mishaps in the kitchen, losing the thread
of a conversation while speaking, and having
trouble getting dressed. The impact of these
losses on Saunders, an academic prone to
liberally using literary quotations and classi-
cal references, is palpable. While she explores
the fragile nature of memory and researches
neuroscience, it is her personal experience,
presented in a work of breathtaking defiance,
that marks how dementia steals one’s self.
Prescription for the Future: The Twelve
Transformational Practices of Highly
Effective Medical Care.
By Ezekiel J. Emanuel.
June 2017. 272p. PublicAffairs, $27 (9781610397254);
e-book (9781610397261). 362.
Emanuel, an MD and PhD credited as an
architect of Obamacare, examines successful
health delivery systems across the country,
including doctor’s practices, multispecialty
clinics, and hospitals, and highlights a dozen
ideas he is convinced will dramatically improve the quality, lower the cost, and enhance
the experience of medical care in America.
These “transformational” methods include
resourceful scheduling of patient appointments, efficient registration and rooming of
patients, measuring the clinical performance
of physicians, standardizing patient care
with established treatment guidelines, adept
management of chronic illnesses, deinstitu-tionalization of medical care (decreasing ER
visits and hospital admissions), optimizing
behavioral health interventions, improving
palliative and home care, and promoting lifestyle changes (fitness and nutrition programs,
fall-prevention for the elderly). Although it’s
steered toward physician-leaders, healthcare
executives, and policy-makers and jammed
with head-spinning jargon and acronyms,
Emanuel’s treatise is nonetheless instructive
for everyone, especially because it is startling
and troubling to see how economics dominates the discussion of “medical care.” In the
current and future model of medicine as big
business, will empathy and compassion be
elbowed out by cost-cutting and efficiency?
— Tony Miksanek
Sellout: How Washington Gave away
America’s Technological Soul, and One
Man’s Fight to Bring it Home.
By Victoria Bruce.
June 2017. 304p. Bloomsbury, $28 (9781632862587);
e-book (9781632862594). 327.
A master of her craft, Bruce (Hostage
Nation, 2010) combines intellect and a no-nonsense tone to tell a complicated scientific
and global story through the lens of one determined man. Jim Kennedy’s life was shaped
by an abusive father and took several dramatic
turns, including the purchase of a bankrupt
mine, prompting him to learn about “rare
earth elements.” Those materials are essential for manufacturing technology, including
defense weapons and clean nuclear energy.
Kennedy learned that post-Desert-Storm glo-