Under the Radar: Cancer and the Cold War

The ghost of Irma Natanson is felt throughout Under the Radar, Ellen Leopold?s unsettling investigation into the effects of Cold War ideology on cancer care. Natanson was a 34-year-old housewife and mother in Kansas when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1955; after a radical mastectomy, she became perhaps the first patient ever to undergo cobalt radiation therapy. The radiation left her severely burned and disabled for the remainder of her life, and she successfully sued her doctor for failing to warn her of the treatment?s risks. Leopold argues that patients like Natanson were unwitting guinea pigs in government-supported experiments to establish the limits of human tolerance for radiation, a pressing concern as nuclear weapons were being developed. The author delves deeply into radiation?s dual position as both cause of and cure for cancer, examining everything from radioactive fallout to the alliance between government and industry to encourage the development of medical technologies with a "close affinity to weapons programs." She even sees the Cold War connection reflected in the militaristic language still used to describe "battles" with cancer (and, on the flip side, the common ?50s formulation referring to the "cancer of communism," which didn?t just spread but "metastasized"). "What alternative...approaches have fallen by the wayside, lacking the kind of heavy-duty institutional backing granted to radiotherapies?" Leopold asks, forcing some uncomfortable questions about all of the roads not taken in cancer prevention and treatment.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.