I've never felt particularly neurotic towards breasts until I read this book. I'm abandoning it about half way through because it's convincing me that...moreI've never felt particularly neurotic towards breasts until I read this book. I'm abandoning it about half way through because it's convincing me that I and everyone I know with breasts will get breast cancer. (Including my daughter who is going to be doubly cursed with cancer AND growing them at age 5). I can't remember another book that has given me so much anxiety. Reading "Lord of the Flies" on a deserted island with three reform middle schools worth of unchaperoned boys wearing rival gang colors would be more relaxing. I don't even know how much I buy all her doom and gloom predictions since one of her big sources is a researcher with the Environmental Working Group and I'm pretty sure most of their conclusions are not based in sound silence but I just can't take anymore of it.(less)
I loved this hilarious memoir. I’m a “Downton Abbey” convert and Margaret Powell’s experiences are evident as a central influence in the show. I enjoy...moreI loved this hilarious memoir. I’m a “Downton Abbey” convert and Margaret Powell’s experiences are evident as a central influence in the show. I enjoyed that it was written later in her life; I think some humor is purely thanks to her musings made explicit by the cultural liberation of the 1960s that would have been otherwise corseted by the Victorians’ waning influence. I know there are other primary sources about household servants’ daily lives as the aristocracy declined but I’m not sure Powell’s wit and insights can be matched by another account. This book is a simple delight to read and gave me some clear background about my favorite characters’ downstairs lives at Downton. (less)
Got this out for genealogical research-some good pictures in here including my grandmother's high school (demolished in the 1950s) as well as a school...moreGot this out for genealogical research-some good pictures in here including my grandmother's high school (demolished in the 1950s) as well as a school named for my ancestors on my grandfather's side. Didn't get around to scanning the pictures like I planned but I may request it again on Melcat at some point once my research gets a little more organized. (less)
When I finished Vaccine, it seemed like I’d been reading it for months. In fact, I had been-this book took me forever and a day to finish and if it we...moreWhen I finished Vaccine, it seemed like I’d been reading it for months. In fact, I had been-this book took me forever and a day to finish and if it weren’t my intense fascination with the subject material, I don’t know if I would have made it through. That’s not necessarily a dig at the book, but many parts of it were definitely more exhaustive than I was looking for at the moment. It’s apparent that Arthur Allen spent a great amount of time and effort writing this book and although it’s more of a popular narrative history, it’s also much more in-depth and occasionally dry than many other history books intended for a general audience.
I think what I appreciated most about this book was how clearly it illustrated that the arguments for and against vaccination haven’t changed that much since the debate began with cow pox vaccination. The logic against vaccines (polluting the blood, not as good as “natural immunity” etc.) are arguments I see over and over again at the anti-vaccine sites on facebook, mostly declared without much background knowledge of how these arguments were developed and used through time. I also appreciated Allen’s coverage of how many pro-vaccine advocates were more than willing to overlook possible negative reactions attributed to their vaccines and I feel that this part of the story needs to be told as well. If those who speak up for vaccines' safety and importance seek to counteract the anti-vaccine crowd's accusations, we must have an accurate understanding of where pro-vaccine scientists and policy-makers have messed up in the past.(That said, I feel completely confident that the current system of vaccine regulation in the United States may not be perfect but it protects citizens-I don’t believe there are hidden legions of “vaccine injured” children suffering in silence.)
I also liked Allen’s detailed accounting of the vaccine industry in America. One of the most common arguments I see is that vaccines are a Big Pharma cash cow but it’s obvious that pharmaceutical companies are by and large not profiting from developing and producing immunizations. I was often bored and overwhelmed by the hundreds of people Allen talks about as I’m not that interested in who developed which vaccine but on the flipside, I did appreciate his exhaustive research about individuals because I was very intrigued by what seemed like rather high numbers of women working to develop vaccines, particularly in the twentieth century. I wonder if vaccinology had more women in its ranks because vaccines are primarily developed for and given to children, who are often seen as part of women’s realm.
Vaccine isn’t a page turner but it is an interesting and worthwhile read for anyone looking to gain a broad understanding of immunization’s history, both how the vaccines themselves were developed as well as the minority reactions to the practice of immunization through time. (less)