Read from August 01 to 09, 2011
Read from June 09 to 21, 2011
A fascinating history of vaccines and the generations of opposition to vaccines because of religious conviction and ignorance. People such as Andrew Wakefield, Jenny Mccarthy and Opra are the recent villains in this story using greed, mis-information, bad science and emotive plees to convince well educated and well meaning parents to not vaccinate their children. As a result society's herd immunity has been compromised for viruses that were eliminated decades ago. The deaths of hundreds of children caused by the of recent outbreaks in whooping cough, measles and other forgotten child hood illnesses is the blood on Wakefield's, McCarthy's and Opra's hands.
One very interesting point he raises is the role of the internet to allow silos of mis-information to perpetuate. Where once these silos were forced to reconcile their thoughts with the challenges from the majority, now the fringe groups can find more like-minded across the globe and more easily ignore the challenges to their ideas. The anti-vaccination crowd continues to grow in spite of the building evidence that contradicts each assertion they put forward. MMR and mercury don't cause autism yet the anti-vaccination community still fervently believes that big pharma is somehow to blaim and not genetics.
Read from May 04 to June 02, 2011
This is the story of Cancer over the last 100 years. It is an emotional roller coaster and harrowing story of accidents, dirty politics, fanciful thinking and perseverance. Mukherjee weaves the tale of scientific accomplishment with rich scientific research. Mukherjee does a fantastic job blending these hard sciences with the story of being human. At times heavy reading but overal a great read.
By the end of the book you realise that Oncology really is in the dark ages; we are only just starting to understand how cancer works. It wasn't until the 1980s that oncologists abandoned radical mastectomy's which cut out ribs, muscle, collar bones and anything in between leaving debilitated patients which had a no better survival rate than more conventional treatments. It is only in the last decade that gene targeted cancer therapy has emerged which is the first real cure for cancer. 24 others are in the works. Since the human genome project we are only just starting to understand that complexities of how cancer mutates and is activated by our own genetics. In the end, the future looks hopeful, but there is a long road yet to go.
Read from April 18 to 21, 2011
Interesting story but a bit preachy at times. Valley of Horses, unlike the prequel, feels like it's trying too hard to fast forward human history and show how all the pivotal discoveries in human society could be brought about (by a single person!). And unlike the prequel, doesn't seem to try as hard to focus on plausibility.
Read from March 13 to 19, 2011
Not Bryson's best work. A humorous, yet cynical drive across america. Unlike his other world traveling type books, this one makes you want to avoid driving through or visiting most american states. Kinda sad really.
Read from March 01 to 09, 2011
I was both gripped and bored by 'Last Call'. The pure volume of names, dates and events made the book dry and read like a school history book. Fortunately the book was not completely dry and wove a very interesting story connecting all parts of the content during the temperance years.
The book did give me a much better understanding of the lead up to the 18th amendment, the cause of the gangster years and the background to the more 'odd' artifacts such as max % alcohol in beer and drinking age limits. If prohibition had never been attempted, the USA likely would not have ever introduced income taxes!
Even more shocking is that I'm likely related (albeit distantly) to Mary Hunt who started the WCTU that spawned the prohibition movement!
Read from January 20 to 22, 2011
Like History of Nearly Everything, this one is chalk full of useless facts and historical information about the origins of things in our home. It is an interesting read, but not nearly has humourous or witty as his other works.