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Neurotribes : the legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity
2015
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New York Times Review
NEUROTRIBES: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman. (Avery, $19.) Two scientists - Leo Kanner in America and Hans Asperger in Vienna - independently identified autism. But while Asperger celebrated his subjects' differences, Kanner's placing of blame for the syndrome onto parents made his discovery "a source of shame and stigma for families worldwide." Had Asperger's attitude prevailed, autism may have had radically different connotations today, Silberman argues. THE AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF EGYPT, by Alaa AI Aswany. Translated by Russell Harris. (Vintage, $17.) In post-World War II Cairo, with Egypt headed toward revolution, Abd el-Aziz, newly bankrupt, has taken a menial job at a club for wealthy Europeans. After a confrontational episode at work, Abd el-Aziz is killed, leaving his children in desperate financial straits. The author, one of the Middle East's most popular, offers keen insight into midcentury Egypt's colonial tensions. PRIMATES OF PARK AVENUE: A Memoir, by Wednesday Martin. (Simon & Schuster, $16.) Martin, who has a background in cultural anthropology, details her bewildering and opulent journey to the culturally remote enclave of mothers on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She is soon inducted into these women's ranks, but still sees reflections of Jane Good all's researches in this "honeyed and moneyed" environment. SWEET CARESS: The Many Lives of Amory Clay, by William Boyd. (Bloomsbury, $17.) The plucky, if improbable, heroine of Boyd's novel brushes off the societal norms that might have constrained her. Her birth announcement in 1908 mistakenly identified her as a boy, and her unhappy father tried to kill them both, yet she succeeds in building a life as a roving photographer. The novel is interspersed with photos meant to be Clay's work. INFESTED: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World, by Brooke Borel. (University of Chicago, $16.) Human life has long been intertwined with these bloodsucking arthropods, which have survived centuries of attempts to stamp them out. After personal exposure to the resurgent pests, Borel, a science journalist, developed a grudging appreciation. MAKE YOUR HOME AMONG STRANGERS, by Jennine Capó Crucet. (Picador, $16.) This novel, a fictionalized account of the story of Elián González, follows a Cuban-American family in Miami. "With history onboard, Crucet shows us how journeys between cultures are almost impossible to navigate and family relationships are bound to dump us in choppy waters," Kathryn Ma wrote here. DAYS OF RAGE: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence, by Bryan Burrough. (Penguin, $18.) An overview of insurgent groups active in the United States from the late 1960s into the 1980s, including the Black Liberation Army, the Weathermen and the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Library Journal Review
Autism, a spectrum of disorders beginning in early childhood that encompasses various forms and degrees of disability, challenges those with the condition as well as parents, educators, and mental health professionals. Endorsed by autism activist Temple Grandin and the late neurologist Oliver Sacks, this historical, cultural, and medical treatise combines meticulous research with a deep understanding and a lively presentation. Silberman, an award-winning science writer for Wired and other magazines, provides an impressive chronicle of the condition along with examples of affected individuals, their families, and the variety of treatment resources. He clarifies the difficulties of diagnosis and the range of therapeutic efforts. Psychologist Bernard Rimland, author of Infantile Autism and the father of an autistic son, explains Silberman, established that autism is an inborn perceptual disability, not the result of bad parenting. For decades a major challenge to psychiatrists, autism can now be viewed as a developmental difference, not necessarily a crippling pathology; it may combine genius with handicap, challenging health experts while taxing but also rewarding caregivers and teachers. Verdict This thorough, authoritative, and readable guide to a perplexing syndrome is the definitive text on the subject and a fine example of science writing for both general and professional readers.-E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Journalist Silberman devotes this thick, linear tome to the stunning evolution of the autism diagnosis from one that's explicitly negative to something more ambiguous and even positive. Child psychiatrist Leo Kanner named the disorder in 1943 after noticing that 11 of his patients lived in "private worlds." His belief that autism was a severe handicap persisted for decades. But pediatrician Hans Asperger saw autism as both handicap and blessing, particularly in milder forms. Calling his patients "little professors," Asperger wondered whether, in science and art, "a dash of autism is essential," noting a predilection towards abstract thinking as well as a type of "skepticism indispensable to any scientist." Now, Silberman says, it is recognized that much gets done inside intense "private worlds," and that negative views began to ebb when the "spectrum" definition was adopted. The "neurodiversity" movement that Silberman sketches now helps those on the spectrum access services and draw positive attention. He does reach some overexuberant conclusions, including the speculative claim that autism is a "strange gift from our deep past, passed down through millions of years of evolution." Still, the main point-that autism may persist because it can come with adaptive qualities-is well taken. This is a thorough look at the difficulties and delights of a very complex disorder. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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