What do you get when you cross a neuroscientist and journalist? You get book that will knock you Out Cold with a fascinating, albeit weird, journey though the science behind hypothermia.
The author, and his writing style (as if he is checking in with you throughout the book, like a protective big brother while you’re being told scary campfire stories,) kept my interest and attention all the way through this frosty journey.
We are shown what happens during hypothermia, whether therapeutic, torture induced, accidental, or just plain scientifically; given the definition of the words “cold” and “temperature”; and are brought to witness the invention of the first thermometer and the discovery and recognition of our accepted scientific heat measurement of 37 degrees Celsius. Our chilling brush with the past also includes examples of ancient forms and uses of cold therapy.
The author also discusses extremophiles (hey, if you can’t take the heat…), water torture, exploration of Antarctica, the use of cold for healing, as well as touching on the topic of cryogenics.
Another interesting fact the author touches on is how the determination is made by medical professionals as to whether someone is truly dead post a hypothermic exposure (as some do return to life after being pronounced dead, lending to the expression that “you’re not truly dead until you are WARM and dead.”)
If you’re like me, with all these facts now swirling in your brain, you’re teetering you on the edge of brain freeze, and then the author adds another hard, cold fact to your ever expanding neural connections by exploring how Nazi water tortures, conducted on helpless and innocent people in concentration camps during WWII, still play a part in our science of today. Talk about a thorough walk in the valley of cold.
This is a book you will return to to read and re-read. It definitely will appeal to science minded people, medical professionals, and people who just love obscure and ghoulish facts.
For me, it provided background and information on a therapy that was used on my father after he had a massive heart dysthymia, causing him an anoxic injury from ineffective CPR by a well meaning, yet under educated, bystander. While this therapy didn’t produce a desired outcome for my father, but rather prolonged a horrific journey for him and our family, the information provided and HOW it’s presented allowed this jaded daughter to see just how valuable cold therapy can be if and when used correctly. This is definitely a book that will inspire deep thought and hardy conversation material in an area of science and medicine that can cause great controversy. I highly recommend this book and suggest you grab your copy when it’s released on June 1, 2021. Grab a blanket, a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and snuggle up against the chill of Out Cold. Happy reading my friends!
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My sincere thank you to Perseus Books, PublicAffairs, NetGalley, and the author Phil Jaekl for providing me an ARC in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinions and review.