8 Booklist September 15, 2015 www.booklistreader.com
culture agriculture, and industrialization
would engender disastrous climate change.
Humboldt, Wulf convincingly argues in this
enthralling, elucidating biography, was a genuine visionary, whose insights we need now
more than ever. —Donna Seaman
George Washington Carver.
By Christina Vella.
Sept. 2015. 456p. illus. Louisiana State, $38
Prodigious scientist Carver was held in such
high esteem that he was consulted by titans of
industry, from Henry Ford to Henry A. Wallace, and consorted with world leaders, from
President Theodore Roosevelt to Mohandas Gandhi.
But he could not dine in the
fine hotels where he spoke
at scientific conferences or
travel in anything other
than Jim Crow accommodations. He could also not get
Booker T. Washington, the
imperious head of Tuskegee Institute, where
Carver worked, to provide him with adequate
lab supplies. He was single-minded and eccentric in the typical mold of dedicated scientists,
but Carver was also extraordinarily generous
with his time and inventions, giving away formulas that enriched others while he remained
devoted to Tuskegee. Vella presents a portrait
of a sensitive man who rose above the racial
restrictions of the time. She also details Carver’s personal life, his agonizing relationships
with Washington and Tuskegee colleagues envious of his accomplishments, and his failed
romances and enduring friendships. Hailed
for his phenomenal work creating products
and curatives from the peanut, including a
“cure” for polio to which he demurred, Carver
gained national and international acclaim by
the time of his death in 1943. This is an extraordinary look at the life of a brilliant man.
YA/C: YAs looking for report material
will find a rich resource here. VB.
By Jenna von Oy.
Nov. 2015. 274p. Medallion, $21.95 (9781605426587).
When actress von Oy (best known for her
roles on the ’90s comedies Blossom and The
Parkers) discovered that the child-care books
she was reading during her first pregnancy
were too clinical, she decided to write some-
thing that was more relatable. In the style of
many of today’s “mommy bloggers,” von Oy’s
book offers a sassy, humorous tone while dis-
pensing real-world practical advice. There is a
chapter dedicated to new dads, a realistic look
at heading to the hospital (bring your phone
charger!), and the author’s take on breast-
feeding (refreshingly, she ends that chapter
with, “Formula is not the root of all evil. . . .
If you do what’s right for you and your baby,
you’re doing the right thing. Case closed”).
The current crop of books for new moms
leans toward heavy humor, with little guid-
ance, but von Oy really does a remarkable job
of offering sound parenting suggestions in be-
tween the jokes. A suitable purchase for most
public libraries. —Rebecca Vnuk
Health & Medicine
Infectious Madness: The Surprising
Science of How We “Catch” Mental
By Harriet A. Washington.
Oct. 2015. 304p. illus. Little, Brown, $28
(9780316277808); e-book (9780316277792). 616.890.
Washington, whose credentials include
fellowships at Harvard and Stanford and
a National Book Critics Circle Award for
Medical Apartheid (2007), convincingly argues that infections cause 10 to 15 percent
of mental disease. She lays out good evidence
from the present and the past. For example,
paresis, which causes delusions and hallucinations in the final stage of syphilis, vanished
after doctors started using penicillin to cure
the sexually transmitted disease. Feline fanciers may be alarmed to read that the parasite
Toxoplasma gondii, reproduced in cats’
stomachs, is associated with schizophrenia.
Washington, a former journalist, visits and
interviews microbe hunters in addition to
referring to previous research. The result is
usually interesting enough to make it worth
wading through technical terms like
Clostridium (bacteria that thrive when kids get
antibiotics) and Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes and
proteobacteria (which rule the colon). Washington covers germ theory, fetal exposure,
“catching” anorexia and obsessive-compulsive
disorder, gut issues, pathogens in societies,
strategies to outwit pathogens, and “tropical
madness” (clean water and toilets in the Third
World would help address “untamed infectious threats and unaddressed disease”). A
thought-provoking book. —Karen Springen
Navigating Life with Multiple Sclerosis.
By Kathleen Costello and others.
Sept. 2015. 208p. illus. Oxford, paper, $19.95
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic au-
toimmune disease that attacks the central
nervous system (brain, optic nerves, and
spinal cord). Diagnosis can be difficult and
frustrating. Symptoms of MS—fatigue
(the most common one), weakness, visual
problems, numbness, trouble with balance,
memory difficulty—can be vague and unpre-
dictable. Yet diagnosis requires more than the
presence of symptoms. Abnormalities must
be identified from a neurological exam, MRI
scan of the brain, and analysis of spinal fluid.
This useful guide clearly condenses and ex-
plains a complicated disease so that patients
can better manage and cope with the disorder
on an everyday basis. And while there is no
cure for MS, a number of disease-modifying
medications and treatments are described.
Lifestyle recommendations are offered. Exer-
cise improves quality of life, targeted physical
therapy helps, but there is no proven spe-
cial diet for MS. Because two-thirds of MS
patients are women, and the majority are
young adults, an entire chapter is devoted
to reproductive issues, including fertility,
contraception, and pregnancy. Lots of useful
information in a small, well-written package.
— Tony Miksanek
Phobias: The Psychology of Irrational Fear.
Ed. by Irena Milosevic and Randi McCabe.
2015. 244p. Greenwood, $89 (9781610695756). 616.85.
This single-volume reference not only provides information regarding specific phobias
but also considers the broader categories of
fear and anxiety, their role in phobias, and
how they are all interrelated. Although the
idea of a phobia dates back to ancient Greece,
a commonly accepted definition did not
emerge until 1947, when phobias were established as a classification in the International
Classification of Diseases.
Readers will find it easy to find what they
need, as the book uses a standard A–Z
encyclopedic arrangement and contains a
comprehensive index. The scope of the volume goes beyond just specific phobias, with
entries on significant individuals; organizations (e.g., Association for Behavioral and
Cognitive Therapies); contextual topics related to phobias (Emotional processing theory,
Phobias across the lifespan); and treatments (
D-cycloserine, Exposure treatment). Each entry is
followed by a section of further reading that
includes high-quality peer-reviewed sources
from prominent journals in the areas of behavior, psychology, and neuroscience. This
work would be useful to public libraries, as
it provides introductory information for the
layperson on concepts and theories related to
phobias as well as information about the phobias themselves. —Janet Pinkley
How to Cook a Moose: A Culinary Memoir.
By Kate Christensen.
Sept. 2015. 296p. Islandport, $24.95 (9781939017734);
e-book (9781939017741). 641.5.
When Christensen follows her new beau to
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