Also of interest...
Drugs that help and harm
by Ben Westhoff (Atlantic Monthly, $27)
Fentanyl is the gravest drug scourge in memory, said Matt McCarthy in USA Today, and “the problem is only getting worse.” Ben Westhoff’s “timely and agonizing” new book lays out how the powerful synthetic painkiller crossed into the illicit drug market in the 1990s and began pouring in from China. Westhoff, a journalist, dove into the research, even infiltrating a pair of Chinese drug labs, and he mixes victims’ stories with industry history. Sadly, the crisis he describes appears unstoppable.
by Sarah Milov (Harvard, $35)
Before the U.S. government became Big Tobacco’s nominal foe, it may have been the industry’s most important ally, said Scott Stern in The New Republic. Sarah Milov’s “nuanced and ultimately devastating” history of the cigarette chronicles how the once reviled product took off after federal spending put it in the ration packs of World War I soldiers and especially after $1 billion in Marshall Plan funds were spent on tobacco. Every turn in this story of corporate exploitation remains “stunningly relevant today.”
by Walter A. Brown (Liveright, $28)
Psychiatrist Walter Brown has written “an homage to the renegade side of science,” said Etelka Lehoczky in NPR.org. His subject is lithium, a metallic element that in pill form has become standard treatment for bipolar disorder—but only thanks to the efforts of scattered freethinkers. The book’s star is John Cade, a psychiatrist-tinkerer who established the drug’s efficacy. “The story of lithium’s use in medicine is certainly colorful,” but it’s the focus on the pioneers’ passions that makes this book memorable.
Odes to Lithium
by Shira Erlichman (Alice James, $18)
This form-breaking poetry collection “turns a confessional self-portrait of crisis into a chemical joyride toward self-acceptance,” said Emilia Phillips in The New York Times. Shira Erlichman, a poet with bipolar disorder, often addresses the drug that helps her function as “you” and slips into fantasy. Though following each leap can be challenging, “these stylistic upheavals reinvigorate the book’s project again and again, destigmatizing bipolar disorder through candor, intimacy, and creativity.”
Courtesy of the author, Dominique Nabokov ■