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GASP!

The Swift and Terrible Beauty of Air

List Price: $16.95

March 2, 2007 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 416 Pages | ISBN 9781593761400
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"GASP! will make you think hard about the miracle of the air we breathe, how it came to be, and what we are doing to it... GASP! is a tour de force, a wondrous romp through this magical substance we breathe." —Philadelphia Inquirer

It’s the first sign of life: that quick inhalation parents wait to hear their babies take, that reassuring gasp of air. From then, each of us breathes 19,000 times daily. That’s 650 million inhalations over an average lifespan, all taken involuntarily. We might not give it a second thought, but Joe Sherman does.

In his exhaustive review, Sherman traces the evolution of air as a science and as a concept, sketching short, fascinating biographies of obscure geniuses and modern-day wonders alike. Think of sixteenth century homeopath Paracelus who introduced the idea that illnesses could be airborne. Or Lance Armstrong, as Sherman visits a respiratory clinic and learns how his aerobic capacity differs from the famous cyclist’s. Such portraits, along with a reasoned look at modern concerns-pollution, transmission of diseases like anthrax or SARS, offer air as a substance readers can hold in their minds as well their lungs.

About Joe Sherman

JOE SHERMAN has written The House of Shelburne and been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for In the Rings of Saturn, his critically acclaimed work on General Motors. He is also the author of Fast Lane on a Dirt Road, a contemporary history of Vermont (already labeled a classic), and a frequent contributor to GQ, Audubon, and Smithsonian. He lives in Vermont.

Praise

“Like his subject, Joe Sherman’s prose is at turns calm or gusty, playful, hot, chilling, lucid, breezy, or furious as a hurricane. Mostly, GASP! will make you think hard about the miracle of the air we breathe, how it came to be, and what we are doing to it… [Sherman] establishes himself as a first-rate writer of popular science… GASP! is a tour de force, a wondrous romp through this magical substance we breathe.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“In a thoughtful and engaging manner, and without writing like an environmental polemicist, Sherman sheds light on a substance that is becoming more and more opaque.” —Publishers Weekly

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