Real Life Disaster Movie Memoir. This is one of those memoirs from someone who was “on the ground” at an event that so very many of us have lived through and with, and thus someone whose experiences are at least worth exploring. That noted, Almand and her husband are both 70 ish yr old seniors with comorbidities (including Type 1 Diabetes in her husband) that make them more susceptible to COVID-19, and this does in fact inform much of her own thoughts on the issue. Still, as a memoir of a sort of Gilligan’s Island – where they went out expecting one thing and got something dramatically different that cast them into a survival situation – this is quite remarkable. From being at Mardi Gras 2020 to being at some of the last NBA games to be played outside the “bubbles” to piecing together where to go in light of confusing, conflicting, and scant data to the various experiences of coming to terms with the new life and reality, this is truly an interesting memoir. Recommended.
Startling Look At (Mostly Relatively Recent) Medical History. I consider myself a fairly well-read guy who is fairly knowledgeable about a *very* wide range of topics. Here, Offit shares stories of medical breakthroughs – including several which are now literally every day occurrences – and how the initial days of these breakthroughs weren’t always so routine. Indeed, many of the stories Offit shares about these breakthroughs – some of which were still being litigated within the last decade – are quite horrific, both from the practitioners really not understanding what they were doing and in some cases when they *did* know what they were doing – and did it anyway. Including one tale in particular about the (now) famous Jonas Salk himself that was quite disturbing to read. In the end, the book does exactly what it sets out to do – shows that there is always inherent risk in any medical procedure, particularly novel ones, and that often times it is those whose lives will be cut short with or without the procedure that take the risks that ultimately reduce those risks for later people and indeed enhance the lives of people they will never know many years down the line. And yes, all of this is wrapped around the current debate over the COVID-19 vaccines – though while these are discussed, they are not actually a core component of the text itself. The discussion here is current circa early November 2020 and is slightly outdated even as I read the text in early February 2021 – and certainly will have advanced even further by the time of the book’s actual publication in mid September 2021. Ultimately a truly fascinating read that is equally disturbing and enlightening, this book is very much recommended.