"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Whether they prefer scotch on the rocks or a double mocha latte, readers will enjoy Braun's dissection of caffeine, alcohol and the processes by which they work. For one thing, the presentation of complicated scientific concepts is understandable without being condescending. Braun makes analogies ("Drinking caffeine is thus like putting a block of wood under one of the brain's primary brake pedals") that help the reader to visualize what's going on. The book is also helped by the author's inclusion of stories and humorous moments. From David Letterman quotes ("If it weren't for the caffeine, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever") to personal anecdotes about the effects these two mood-altering substances had upon the formulation of his book, Braun manages to take abstract concepts and mold them into something highly readable. Science novices should find this book as enjoyable and well-written as those who have spent their lives working with biology or chemistry. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Now a producer at the New England Research Institutes, science writer Braun engagingly describes the chemistry, metabolism, physiological and behavioral effects, and reputed health benefits of the world's two most popular drugs: alcohol and caffeine. He seasons the book with references to history, folklore, and literature. (Did you know that Bach wrote a Coffee Cantata?) The treatment of controversial issues?such as the correlation between risk of heart disease and moderate wine consumption?is balanced, and the science is sound. Whether the subject is the cause of hangovers or the effects of caffeine consumption on PMS, Braun has a knack for interpreting the findings of medical researchers and applying them to daily life. He also includes a postscript on the two years he spent researching the book and how it moderated his own alcohol and caffeine consumption. Recommended for academic and public libraries.?Eris Weaver, Marin Inst. for the Prevention of Alcohol & Other Drug Problems, San Rafael, Cal. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
If you drink coffee, tea, wine, or anything else with Coffee or Alcohol in it, this book is a must read.
The author doesn't take a stance for or against either drug. He simply explains the mechanism of action and role in society of each substance.
For the most part the science portion was fun; most non-nerds like myself can understand it.
Some things are "debunked", like caffeine not helping sober someone up. In fact, the science is more complicated than simple rules like "caffeine doesn't sober you up". Exact dosage of each drug and specific activity being performed matters.
This book breaks down the biological and chemical reactions that allow caffeine and alcohol to affect us. It explains everything in a very detailed manner (describing molecule shape affects it's role in the body, how alcohol's depressant affects work a similar mechanism to valiums, etc), and then goes a step further to give a simple break down of the explanation. It is really fascinating how complex the human body and it's interaction with these substances are.
Overall, this book is for the type of person with an interest in the science behind these substances, but doesn't have the time/patience to read oodles of medical texts.
This is a good introduction to how these two chemicals work in your body and I learned a few new tricks as well. Written simply enough for most non-biochemists to get the idea. The tips on how to get a better buzz with less alcohol and why smoking reduces caffeine uptake were especially interesting. If you drink either, even casually, it would be worth the read.
This book is good in that it explains the science of both substances in a way a layperson can understand but it just isn't that interesting if you've read other books on the subjects. I do like that the author does not draw unsubstantiated conclusions and explains shortcomings (if there are any) with existing studies.
This book is enlightening on what's actually happening when you drink coffee or alcohol. I didn't lose interest despite the chemistry. I wish that more information would have been given more scientific methods of controlling one's intake of these substances.
Fun read. I agree with some of the other comments that the author gets a little too technical at times, but the book is so well written and so fascinating that I easily slowed down to absorb the extra facts. And, I enjoyed learning more about these two common drinks.