In 1938, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger gave the first public talk on autism in history. Asperger was speaking to an audience of Nazis, and he feared that his patients — children who fell onto what we now call the autism spectrum — were in danger of being sent to Nazi extermination camps.

As Asperger spoke, he highlighted his “most promising” patients, a notion that would stick with the autistic spectrum for decades to come.

“That is where the idea of so-called high-functioning versus low-functioning autistic people comes from really — it comes from Asperger’s attempt to save the lives of the children in his clinic,” science writer Steve Silberman tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.

Silberman chronicles the history of autism and examines some of the myths surrounding our current understanding of the condition in his new book, NeuroTribes. Along the way, he revisits Asperger’s calculated efforts to save his patients.

The entire (VERY interesting) interview is here.

– Petra 


“There are several ways in which Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown invites comparison with Susanna Clarke’s best-selling, BBC-adapted Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell,” says reviewer Amal El-Mohtar. “It features squabbling English magicians, a Regency setting, and a mysterious decline in English magic attributed at least in part to difficult relations with capricious fairies. But where Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a severe, atmospheric marshalling of scholarship both fantastical and historical — a book about books, riddled with footnotes and nested stories — Sorcerer to the Crown is a relentlessly charming, character-driven romance in which women and people of color take center stage.”

Read the full review here!

– Petra


Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Prolific young writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the talents, our generation has the opportunity to be proud of and extensively critique for her candor and artistry. In her best-selling book, Purple Hibiscus, we meet fifteen-year old Kambili and her older brother Jaja who leave a privilege life in Enugu, Nigeria. Both siblings are completely shelter from the evils and dangers of the world. Regardless, young Kambili manages to tenderly speak about her troubles. Her Papa is is a respected and generous man, but he is also a dictator at home and fanatically religious. She lives in a home, which is silent and smothering. But as the country crumbles under military control, the siblings are sent to live with their aunt. 

A contemporary novel, Purple HIbiscus is a novel about young people in an authentic setting. Most writers who speak about young people focus on the YA genre and focus on feelings of sadness, romance and heartbreak; but Adichie speaks about strength, freedom and the emotional turmoil of adolescence in a trouble country.

Get the book here!

Read excerpts from the book here!

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