E-books/audiobooks review: non-fiction

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 5:14pm

Jobs That Could Kill You

by Tom Jones

Skyhorse Publishing


This book contains many fascinating stories told by people with dangerous professions, but readers may ask why some vocations are included when others aren't. Although Tom Jones interviews a stuntwoman, a wildlife filmmaker and a bull rider, among many others, he overlooks, for example, medics who work with infectious diseases, mountaineering sherpas and bodyguards - all of whom would surely have interesting stories to tell. Still, Jones has done a lot of legwork, traversing the US to meet his subjects. US labour statistics show that fishermen, loggers and pilots rank in the top three for fatal accidents and Jones includes them, but he also finds out what it's like to be Ula, the Pain Proof Rubber Girl (aka a knife thrower's assistant), and a coal miner, who works in "hell" and coughs up oyster-sized blobs from his lungs every day. Also compelling are the storm chaser who can smell hurricanes and the bounty hunter who never takes Christmas off because that is the best time to nab someone: "They're always at mum's home," he says.

A World of Hurt

by Barry Meier

The New York Times


A World of Hurt will make readers wince. About the increased acceptance of strong opioids to relieve chronic pain associated with everything from arthritis to bad backs, it shows how medical opinion shifted for what originally were right reasons but that ultimately caused more harm than good. New York Times reporter Barry Meier outlines how in the war on pain the "flagship drug" Oxycontin came to be abused after a marketing blitz that touted its time-release mechanism, reassuring doctors who feared it would attract addicts craving quick fixes. By the beginning of the 21st century, Meier writes, the painkiller boom was born, as was the beginnings of America's "biggest national public health disaster" (the number of deaths attributed to overdoses is second only to traffic accidents). Contrary to expectation that the narcotics would allow sufferers to resume active lives, long-term use, some experts argued, was causing more rather than less pain. Readers may not want to read that pain is inescapable, but the book will at least open their eyes about what might increase the suffering.