Tag Archives: 2016

Being Mortal

Being Mortal

Picador
Paperback
304 pages • $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-2500-7622-9

Medicine and What Matters in the End

Atul Gawande

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande’s masterful exploration
of aging, death, and the medical profession’s
mishandling of both, is his best and most
personal book yet.” —The Boston Globe

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

© Tim Llewellyn

Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: Complications; Better; and The Checklist Manifesto. He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts.

Being Mortal has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

East Central University Honors Program (OK); Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science (OH); Moravian College (PA); Tufts University School of Medicine (MA); University of Massachusetts Medical School; University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

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City of Thorns

City of Thorns

Picador
Paperback
400 pages • $17.00
ISBN: 978-1-250-11873-8

Nine Lives in the World’s Largest
Refugee Camp

Ben Rawlence

With a New Postscript

“The most absorbing book in recent memory about life in refugee camps . . . Mr. Rawlence’s major feat is stripping away the anonymity that so often is attached to the word ‘refugee’ by delving deeply into the lives of nine people in the camp.”—The Wall Street Journal

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, in the midst of an inhospitable northern Kenyan desert landscape largely characterized by thorn bushes, is Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. Founded in 1992 as a temporary camp for 30,000 refugees fleeing violence and unrest in Sudan, it has since metastasized into a permanent home to some 500,000 people. A city like no other, its half a million residents barter their meager food rations, create homes for themselves from plastic sheets and sticks, and use open sewers. Due to its inaccessible location and the extremely high risk of kidnapping, very few western journalists have visited Dadaab, let alone spent any length of time there. Dadaab and the surrounding region are now largely controlled by al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s Somalian cell, and the camp and its desperate residents have become a hotbed for recruiters. Despite these dangers, Ben Rawlence has spent large periods of the last three years in the camp and has followed the lives of six people: Guled, the conscripted child-soldier who flees to the camp across Somalia; Nisho, as old as Dadaab itself, born in the camp twenty five years ago; and Muna, whose marriage to a Christian Lost Boy from Sudan sparks uproar and sectarian violence. Ben’s sensitive portraits of the camp’s inhabitants invite readers to imagine how they might behave should they, like so many millions of people around the world, find themselves imprisoned in such a camp with little hope and with the world’s eyes firmly askance.

© Jonny Donovan

© Jonny Donovan

Ben Rawlence is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the horn of Africa. He is the author of Radio Congo and has written for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and Prospect. He lives in the Black Mountains in Wales with his wife and daughter.

City of Thorns has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Michigan State University and the City of East Lansing (MI)

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Spare Parts

Spare Parts

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Paperback
240 pages • $14.00
ISBN: 978-0-374-53498-1


Los Inventores
Spanish Language Edition
Paperback
240 pages • $14.00
ISBN: 978-0-374-28450-3

Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream

Joshua Davis

Finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize

Spare Parts is a delightful book . . . Davis writes well, and he keeps his plot moving swiftly . . . A great American story.”—Peter Carlson, The Washington Post

In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.

And build a robot they did.

They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition—and yet, against all odds . . . they won!

But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan. Joshua Davis’s Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country—even as the country tried to kick them out.

Spare Parts is an unforgettable tale of hope and human ingenuity. Joshua Davis offers a moving testament to how teamwork, perseverance, and a few good teachers can lift up and empower even the humblest among us.”—Héctor Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark

“It’s the most American of stories: how determination and ingenuity can bring triumph over long odds. There are too few stories like these written about Latino students. Poignant and beautifully told, Spare Parts makes you feel their frustration at the obstacles and indignities faced by Cristian, Lorenzo, Luis, and Oscar—and to cheer as they rise to overcome each one of them.”—Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey 

“This is important reading . . . Young adults will benefit from from reading and discussing this realistic, eye-opening chronicle . . . Davis pulls no punches as he describes the grim sociopolitical atmosphere that allows the oppression of talented people for no morally acceptable reason. The four young inventors and their struggles helped spur the DREAMers movement.”—Donna Chavez, Booklist (starred review)

“A gratifying human interest story that calls attention to the plight and promise of America’s undocumented youth.”Library Journal

“Davis takes what could have been another feel-good story of triumphant underdogs and raises the stakes by examining the difficulties of these young immigrants in the context of the societal systems that they briefly and temporarily overcame.”Publishers Weekly

Joshua Davis © Sebastian Mlynarski

© Sebastian Mlynarski

Joshua Davis is a contributing editor at Wired and a cofounder of Epic magazine. He lives in San Francisco with his family.

Spare Parts has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Alamo Heights High School (TX); The Browning School (NY); Cedar Valley College (TX); Chemeketa Community College (OR); Concordia University (TX); Hesston College (KS); Hood College (MD); Johns Hopkins University (MD); Kansas State University; Lafayette Public Library and School District (LA); Lewis University (IL); Metropolitan Community College – Maple Woods (MO); Miami University (OH); Monroe Community College (NY); Nash Community College (NC); North Iowa Area Community College; North Lake College (TX); Norwalk Community College (CT); Oakland University, The Honors College (MI); Pasadena City College (CA); Providence College (RI); Rutgers University, Honors College (NJ); Salem State University (MA); Santa Ana College; Stony Brook University (NY); University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science; University of Michigan College of Engineering; Washington State University, Vancouver; Winthrop University (SC)

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The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction

Picador
Paperback
336 pages • $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-250-06218-5

An Unnatural History

Elizabeth Kolbert

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“Your view of the world will be fundamentally changed . . . Kolbert is an astute observer, excellent explainer, and superb synthesizer, and even manages to find humor in her subject matter.”—The Seattle Times

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.

Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamanian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. “Ms. Kolbert shows in these pages that she can write with elegiac poetry about the vanishing creatures of this planet, but the real power of her book resides in the hard science and historical context she delivers here, documenting the mounting losses that human beings are leaving in their wake.”—The New York Times

© Barry Goldstein

Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

The Sixth Extinction has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Colgate University (NY); Lafayette College (PA); Linfield College (OR); Occidental College (CA); Feather River College (CA); Millsaps College (MS); Rowan University (NJ); Saint Francis High School (CA); Stanford University (CA); Villanova University (PA); Williams College (MA); University of Vermont (VT)

Dreamland

Dreamland

Bloomsbury
Paperback
384 pages • $18.00
ISBN: 978-1-62040-252-8

The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

Sam Quinones

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

“A brisk and startling new book on painkiller and heroin addiction in the United States.”

—Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times 

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland. Acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma’s campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive—extremely addictive—miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin—cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico’s west coast, independent of any drug cartel—assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico. Introducing a memorable cast of characters—pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents—Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.

quinones, sam

Sam Quinones is a journalist, author and storyteller whose two acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction about Mexico and Mexican immigration—True Tales From Another Mexico and Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream—made him, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the most original writer on Mexico and the border.” He lives in Los Angeles.

Dreamland has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science (OH); Virginia Commonwealth University

Who We Be

Who We Be

St. Martin’s Press
Paperback
416 pages • $20.00
ISBN: 978-1-250-07489-8

The Colorization of America

Jeff Chang

“The book is especially useful for novices looking for a primer on race and culture, but it would behoove anyone who has an interest in what it means to be an American to read it.”—San Francisco Chronicle 

Race. The greatest social divide in American life, a half-century ago and today. During that time, the U.S. has seen the most dramatic demographic and cultural shifts in its history, what can be called the colorization of America. But the same nation that elected its first Black president on a wave of hope is still plunged into endless culture wars.  How do Americans see race now? How has that changed—and not changed—over the half-century? After eras framed by words like “multicultural” and “post-racial,” do we see each other any more clearly? From the dream of integration to the reality of colorization, Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. Jeff Chang, the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.

Jeff Chang © Jeremy Keith Villaluz

© Jeremy Keith Villaluz

Jeff Chang‘s first book was the award-winning Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. He has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and was named by The Utne Reader one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” He is the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.

Thank You for Your Service

Thank You for Your Service

Picador
Paperback
272 pages • $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-250-12146-2

David Finkel

A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

A New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award Finalist

“The stories of the soldiers and their families portrayed in Thank You for Your Service possess a visceral and deeply affecting power on their own that will haunt readers long after they have finished this book.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, Finkel shadowed the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they carried out the infamous “surge,” a grueling fifteen-month tour of Baghdad that changed all of them forever. In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel follows many of those same men as they return home and struggle to reintegrate—both into their family lives and into American society at large. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done. This book is an act of understanding, and it offers a more complete picture than we have ever had of two essential questions: When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? And when they return, what are we thanking them for?

David Finkel © Lucian Perkins

© Lucian Perkins

David Finkel is the award-winning author of The Good Soldiers. A staff writer for The Washington Post, he is also the leader of the Post’s national reporting team. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2006, and the MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 2012. Finkel lives in Maryland, with his wife and two daughters.

Thank You For Your Service has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Adelphi University (NY); Louisiana State University, Ogden Honors College; University of Delaware