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See Inside April 2010

Recommended: Rare: Portraits of America's Endangered Species

Books and recommendations from Scientific American


Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species
by Joel Sartore. National Geographic Focal Point, 2010

For more than 20 years photojournalist Joel Sartore has been making studio portraits of species from around the world. This book brings together 69 captivating images of organisms on the brink, from the leatherback sea turtle to the carnivorous pitcher plant.

Excerpt
Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries
by Molly Caldwell Crosby. Berkley Books, 2010

Journalist Molly Caldwell Crosby chronicles the chilling history of encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness, that swept across the globe in the shadow of the Spanish Flu, claiming millions of lives before it ended abruptly in 1927. Here she describes the case of a 16-year-old girl named Ruth who lived in New York City and fell fatally ill with the disease in 1918, just as it was building toward an epidemic there.

“… Ruth had been described as a healthy and robust girl, but when she returned from work the week before Christmas, she started complaining of a severe pain in the index finger on her right hand. It was acute and came on suddenly that afternoon.

“By the time she reached home that evening, the pain had spread up her entire arm. The arm ached for hours, and then the pain disappeared suddenly, leaving her right arm slightly paralyzed. Up to that point, an aching arm and what seemed like joint pain had been her only symptoms. The symptoms had come on quickly, but certainly did not point to anything more disturbing to come. And so it was both startling and frightening when Ruth flew into a sudden rage.

“She became irrational and violent, lashing out at her parents. It was as if their daughter had gone insane—immediately and without warning. The family history presented no tendency toward mental illness, and although Ruth’s older sister had epilepsy, no epileptic seizure had ever been like this.

“With wild eyes, thrashing limbs and clenched teeth, Ruth finally had to be sedated and restrained. Then Ruth fell asleep. Even as she slept her temperature rose to 102. Her parents could only stand back and watch their daughter, strapped to a bed, gasping in rapid breaths of air like an animal. At first the sleep must have been a relief, but as the days and weeks passed, it would become terrifying.

“Ruth’s eyes had closed just before Christmas, and they had never opened again….”

BOOKS
The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight about Global Warming
by Howard Friel. Yale University Press, 2010

My Brain Made Me Do It: The Rise of Neuroscience and the Threat to Moral Responsibility
by Eliezer J. Sternberg. Prometheus Books, 2010

Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans
by Brian Fagan. Bloomsbury Press, 2010

Superbug: How MRSA Has Surged Out of Control and Is Lurking in All Corners of Our Lives
by Maryn McKenna. Free Press, 2010

The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution
by Henry Schlesinger. Smithsonian Books, 2010

Fishes of the Open Ocean: A Natural History and Illustrated Guide
by Julian Pepperell. University of Chicago Press, 2010

In Praise of Science: Curiosity, Understanding, and Progress
by Sander Bais. MIT Press, 2010

No Good Deed: A Story of Medicine, Murder Accusations, and the Debate over How We Die
by Lewis M. Cohen. HarperCollins, 2010

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