The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Lives

Helen Pearson. Counterpoint/Soft Skull, $17.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-59376-645-0
The first book from science journalist and Nature editor Pearson brings to life a particularly ambitious series of cohort studies, which draw conclusions from bulk data on large populations. Every 12 years since 1946, scientists have chosen one week and tracked the lives of all babies born in the U.K. during that week. Information about these babies has directly affected legislation on the creation of Britain’s National Health Service, education reform, and adult literacy programs. Many facts that we now consider common sense (having a baby is expensive; smoking increases the risk of lung cancer; poor children are at an educational disadvantage compared to wealthy children) were first confirmed by cohort data. Pearson gamely traces the scientists’ findings while painting mostly sympathetic portraits of both researchers and subjects. Her dogged enthusiasm for her chosen topic is so unflagging that it can occasionally be grating, but her sense of compassion and wonder shines through on every page. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-61902-810-4
Hardcover - 978-1-84614-826-2
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