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Book Reviews

“Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity”
(St. Martin’s Press, 2012)

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 “Kirby makes a passionate case for captivity as the reason orcas become killers (and) tells the story like a thriller. His argument is, for the most part, fair and persuasive… We probably can't free the orcas in captivity today, but we could make the current group of captive killer whales the last.” —Wall Street Journal

“A chilling depiction… Kirby lays out a compelling scientific argument against killer whale captivity” New Scientist

“A gripping inspection. Hard to put down.” —Booklist (***Starred Review)

“Brilliantly and intensively researched and conveyed with clarity and thoughtfulness, Kirby’s work of high-quality non-fiction busts the whale debate wide open… Reads like a thriller and horrifies like Hannibal Lector.” —San Francisco Book Review – FIVE STARS

“Kirby shows that the reality (of orca captivity) is more akin to a circus, in which any benefits are outweighed by the cost to the whale – and sometimes to the keepers.” —Financial Times

“Thorough and disturbing… One of the great books of the summer” —Columbus Dispatch

“SeaWorld got a firm slap in the form of journalist David Kirby's fascinating and deeply disturbing book.”—Christian Science Monitor

“An outstanding book. Vvery-well written, extremely well documented, and timely.” —Psychology Today

“An informed narrative that strongly suggests that despite their name, only when captured do the mammals become dangerous to humans. Free Willy, indeed.” —New York Daily News

“Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment”
(St. Martin’s Press, 2010)

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“Kirby combines the narrative urgency of Sinclair’s novel with the investigative reporting of Schlosser’s book — Animal Factory is nonfiction, but reads like a thriller… Like Sinclair’s and Schlosser’s work, it has the potential to change the collective American mind about contemporary food issues.” NPR “Books We Like”

“The writing is brilliant, the people profiled are inspirational in their activism, and the topic is one that so many people remain blissfully ignorant of. Everyone would benefit from reading this book.”—San Francisco Book Review

“Animal Factory is a compelling narrative in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, whose 1906 novel “The Jungle” led to changes in the meat-packing industry. It isn’t a novel, but it moves along with the urgency of a pot-boiler. What Kirby has done in this journalistic account of animal factory operations across the country is draw back the curtains that have carefully screened from the public the untidy secrets about how meat is produced on a large scale in this country.
--The Charlotte Observer

“Kirby turns his investigative reporting skills to the human and environmental consequences of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). He focuses on the negative impacts CAFOs are having on not only those who live near these operations but also those who may be affected by polluted water originating from waste lagoon spills at these sites. His narrative is immensely readable and should be required reading for anybody concerned with how CAFOs are changing the nature of livestock farming.” Library Journal

“A meticulously detailed, propulsive chronicle. Thanks to Kirby’s extraordinary journalism, we have the most relatable, irrefutable, and unforgettable testimony yet to the hazards of industrial animal farming.” — Booklist, Starred Review***

Evidence of Harm – Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, A Medical Controversy” (St. Martin’s Press, 2005) 
                                                                                 Front Cover

“Kirby does an admirable job of clarifying most of the scientific background (but) doesn't offer his own verdict on the debate -- although he makes the unassailable point that American health agencies lagged in calculating the amount of mercury being injected into babies.” – The New York Times & International Herald Tribune

“Kirby's portrayal manages to make his protagonists seem far from crazy… The battle rages on, and while Evidence of Harm offers no prospect of a truce, it does provide crystal clarity on an often misunderstood side of the argument.”  Washington Post

“Evidence of Harm is a gripping investigation. Much like the 9/11 commission's report, it is an alarming page-turner… giving thimerosal-containing vaccines to newborns carries unreasonable risks, and the symbiotic interests of the public health agencies and the vaccine manufacturers hinder a forthright exploration of the issue.” -- Newsday

Kirby, an experienced writer for The New York Times, crafts an engrossing David and Goliath story. Walking the middle line, Kirby acknowledges that “each side accuses the other of being irrational, overzealous, blind to evidence they find inconvenient, and subject to professional, financial, or emotional conflicts of interest that cloud their judgment.” It's accessible in its handling of medical topics and compelling in its recounting of the parents' fight.”
-Publishers Weekly – Starred Review

NY Science Times journalist Kirby addresses the burgeoning number of U.S. children diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and speech delays with as much detachment as possible, given what appears to be overwhelming, though anecdotal, evidence of a connection between those diagnoses and a mercury-based preservative. Some facts Kirby asserts seem hard to refute, and the juxtaposition of heartrending parents' stories and disengaged rhetoric of official agency and company documents makes anything but refutation unconscionable. - Booklist – Journal of the American Library Association

Kirby, a science contributor to The New York Times, acknowledges that while there is no proof that mercury in vaccines causes autism, neither is there any proof of its safety. One side calls this an epidemic; the other claims it’s the result of better diagnosis and reporting. Kirby creates warm portraits of parents trying desperately to find treatments for their damaged children while, at the same time, carrying on a war with both big government and big business - Kirkus Reviews

Avoiding hyperbole while writing about a possible medical catastrophe is no easy task, but David Kirby has created a fine balance of investigative and personal detail in Evidence of Harm. Combining stories from the parents of autistic children with reports, speeches and studies from researchers, pediatricians and government officials, he creates a picture that is as terrifying as anything dreamed up by Hitchcock. The book is never dull--there is a continual urgency in the material that resists pedantry. - Amazon.com

Kirby delivers a well-written story that weaves in startling facts and takes you on a roller-coaster ride into the homes of families devastated by autism. It tells tales of government bureaucracy and political cronyism that, if true, are appalling. - Bloomberg News

A riveting new book that examines this controversial but biologically plausible link, Evidence of Harm  lines up the known evidence while telling the stories of a handful of determined parents forced to become their own detectives. You'll get eye-opening glimpses into the trenches where once normally developing kids slip into the shuttered world of autism and where their parents refuse to be bounced off the walls of seemingly impenetrable bureaucracies. Highly recommended. Knight Ridder Newspapers

The parents search for clues and their path keeps leading them to mercury. Whichever side the reader ends up believing, Evidence of Harm makes one thing clear: this is an issue that will not go away.” – Financial Times


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