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From The CriticsReviewer: Linda Cocchiarella, MD, MSc (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Description: This new book discusses relationships among political forces, alternative health practices, environmental factors, and their impact on individual and societal health.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to "add new interdisciplinary perspectives on health and environmental issues, to counterbalance the overwhelming presence and empowerment of brokers, lawyers, and the people who hire them." The focus is on the political influences governing healthcare practices with little information provided on the validity, depth, and interrelationships of alternative health practices. Unfortunately, in their attempt to achieve "counterbalance," many of the authors tipped the scales to a different extremist position. They emphasized the weaknesses of the traditional healthcare system, failed to recognize its strengths, and made minimal attempts to integrate the best from current and alternative health practices.
Audience: The book is written for a lay audience. Although some of the authors were credible, others presented a limited, self-serving view of their discipline with misinterpretations of scientific facts. This book is not a useful reference for scientists, researchers, or serious students interested in political and environmental influences on health.
Features: The book is underillustrated, and references are limited and often outdated. The table of contents is adequate. The overall appearance of the book is attractive.
Assessment: The overall quality of the book is uneven. Some chapters, such as "The Politics of Cancer," "Aboriginal Healing...," and "Addiction and Recovery..." are accurate and informative. Other chapters, such as "You Are What You Eat" and "Environmental Medicine and Individual Health" are inaccurate. The closing chapter, "Living the Good Life," deprecates urban dwellers, ignores the complexities of their lives, and presents nonviable options for "living the good life" for the masses. This book covers important topics but lacks the balance necessary for it to achieve its ultimate goal of exploring improved ways of living and delivering health care.