Medicine, time travel and Sharpe: books read

OVERTREATED: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer by Shannon Brownlea, argues that much of the care Americans get is unnecessary and its efficacy unproven, with results spelled out by the title; the causes include doctors’ conviction that all this cool tech must be making them more effective, the fact that the explosion of cool tech makes it both more profitable and more practical to use (“If a physician knows that there’s no waiting period for a CT scan, it’s much easier to order one.”), plus problems other critics have pointed out, such as drug-company salesmanship and patients demanding whatever cool miracle cure they just saw advertised on TV. A very good, if disturbing book.
TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, Or How We Found the Bishop’s Bird’s Nest Stump at Last by Connie Willis is an SF comic novel in which one millionairess’ obsessive efforts to enlist the time-travel industry in rebuilding an exact replica of Coventry Cathedral results in the burned-out protagonist retreating to the Victorian era for a couple of weeks of rest, only to discover his visit is now the center of the hunt for a particularly ugly piece of bric a brac around which the entire time-space continuum seems to revolve. Despite my spotting a couple of twists early on, and the fact the book is very much a gigantic Deus Ex story, this is most entertaining.
SHARPE’S EAGLE: Richard Sharpe and the Talavera campaign, July 1809, by Bernard Cornwell, has Sharpe discovers his career has become a political football in the struggle between Gen. Wellesley and a new, arrogant officer representing the anti-war wing of Parliament and that the only way to keep his rank is to capture a French reginemtal Eagle to redeem a disastrous defeat. As always, with Sharpe, solid entertainment.
Sharpe and Harper march again in SHARPE’S GOLD: Richard Sharpe and the Destruction of Almeida, 1810, as he finds himself on a hunt for a Spanish gold stockpile complicated by a guerilla leader who thinks it should go to him, French troops and a hot girl (well, of course) and the fact even his superior officers have no idea what it’s going for (neither did I, the Lines of Torres Vedras that provide the big finish were something I hadn’t heard about). The usual solid job, though rather grim, as Sharpe winds up killing 500 men on his own side in the quest for the Greater Good.

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