published SEPTEMBER 2022
by abrams press
The Oldest Cure in the World
Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting
When should we eat, and when should we not?
The answers to these simple questions, as journalist Steve Hendricks shows in his irresistibly readable exploration of fasting, are not at all what you might expect. Stop eating for long enough, and you’ll set in motion cellular repairs that may slow aging as well as prevent and reverse a variety of diseases, including diabetes and hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and epilepsy, asthma and schizophrenia, and much more. Astoundingly, fasting has even been proven to make chemotherapy better at killing cancer while protecting patients from the worst of chemo’s side effects.
Hendricks also takes us on a tour of the surprisingly expansive history of fasting, a chronicle as rich in telling detail as it is comprehensive in its scope, from the ancient Chinese woodcarver who fasted to still his mind and “to forget I have four limbs,” to the unlikely nineteenth-century doctor whose stupendous forty-day fast on a New York stage caused a stir around the world and inaugurated the modern era of therapeutic fasting that we’re still living in.
Threaded throughout are Hendricks’s own adventures in fasting, by turns playful and moving. One of these, his fast of twenty days, helped launch the recent wave of interest in fasting when an account of it was first published a decade ago. The lasting achievement of The Oldest Cure in the World is to guide us through a terrain we thought we knew well—our own bodies and when to feed them—but whose secrets we’re only beginning to unlock, with great promise for health and longevity.
. . .
“An illuminating exploration of the rich and varied history—and myriad health benefits—of fasting. . . . Mr. Hendricks, a freelance reporter, is a deft stylist (fatty foods are ‘coronary and gastric assailants’; the marketing labels for a health fad are ‘linguistic casseroles’), and he excels at describing the experience of going without food.”
“Hendricks’s book is a remarkable blend of authoritative history, illuminating science, and endearing storytelling. In The Oldest Cure in the World, Hendricks gives us the wonders of fasting—too long neglected by doctors and scientists, too often misunderstood by most of us, yet so potent a therapy—with marvelous clarity, page-turning crispness, and appealing humanity.”
Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies
“Fasting, long regarded as being ‘on the wrong side of respectability,’ deserves serious consideration as a medical treatment, argues journalist Hendricks (The Unquiet Grave) in this thought-provoking survey. Hendricks writes that the practice has been shown to help with illnesses as varied as asthma, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines. But it’s ‘simply too counterintuitive to think not eating could make you healthier,’ and the medical community has yet to embrace it. That’s a mistake, Hendricks insists: it’s cheaper than drugs and has fewer side effects, and he touts it as an ‘astoundingly and variously useful’ method that’s been hiding in plain sight for millennia. The author weaves a fascinating personal narrative (fasting helped his idiopathic hypersomnia) with a comprehensive history of the practice, from prehistoric humans who fasted from necessity up to modern-day clinics that use it. While enthusiastic, Hendricks is careful not to oversell fasting’s benefits (there’s much it ‘cannot do, no matter how many incautious boosters say otherwise’), and he pulls no punches when highlighting flaws in research, as with studies that emphasize ‘profit rather than health.’ His levelheaded, irreverent approach and sharp reporting set the book apart. The result is a winning mix of captivating storytelling and fascinating science.”
“Steve Hendricks set himself the Herculean task of weaving together the long history and deep science of fasting with his own revealing self-experiments—and has succeeded brilliantly in turning out a captivating tale. The Oldest Cure in the World is an engrossing tour de force and offers a bona fide strategy for slowing the aging process.”
#1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Blue Zones
“Few people know that science has shown fasting is a key that unlocks ancient restorative systems and mobilizes some of the body’s most powerful regenerative mechanisms. In The Oldest Cure in the World, Steve Hendricks proves to be a master of explaining the multitude of benefits that various kinds of fasting can unleash. Fasting is a core part of my integrative cardiology practice. This book is a must read for those looking for a long healthspan.”
Author of Your Whole Heart Solution
A September nominee for the Next Big Idea Club.
The Unquiet Grave
The FBI and the Struggle
for the Soul of Indian Country
One of the 100 best books of 2006.
“Best of the Literary Crop”: one of 12 recommended nonfiction books for 2006.
Salt Lake Tribune
One of 36 recommended nonfiction reads for 2006.
One of 100 noteworthy books for 2006.
Kansas City Star
“A detailed, exhaustive investigative account [from] the indefatigable Hendricks. . . . An eye-opening, often shocking narrative fueled by the author’s outrage.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Shocking . . . In its sweep, [The Unquiet Grave] is about the slow death of American Indian tribes across the United States, abetted by racist FBI agents, corrupt politicians, greedy lawyers and, to a shameful extent, many Indians themselves.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The Unquiet Grave, a tautly written exposé, reads like a detective novel. . . . The abuses [are] disturbingly detailed.”
Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
“This revelatory book is investigative journalism at its gutsiest, at its noblest. It is a documented portrait of the FBI as an un-American agency in its shafting of Native Americans. Must reading for anybody interested in our buried passages of American history.”
Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of
Hope Dies Last and The Good War
“An impressive and important book, thoroughly researched and very well written.”
Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award–winning
author of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
“An excellent book that reopens the wounds of Wounded Knee—and that provides important new information for readers of Peter Matthiessen’s long-suppressed In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. . . . A blistering, important work.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Hendricks’s swift narrative is riddled with judicial travesties, coverups, vigilantism, COINTELPRO-style tactics, mounting paranoia and lawlessness on both sides. . . . Hendricks is careful throughout this harsh, heart-thumping account never to lose sight of the larger context.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The Unquiet Grave is a riveting anti-detective story in which the detectives—the FBI—are themselves investigated and their violations of the basic rights of Native Americans exposed. Few people know about this disturbing episode in our country’s recent past, but many should and will, thanks to Steve Hendricks’s fascinating book.”
Howard Zinn, author of
A People’s History of the United States
“With passion and elegance, Steve Hendricks has unearthed an ugly chapter in the FBI’s abusive history. Our hearts have been buried at Wounded Knee long enough. Dig ’em up and bury the FBI instead. Read this book.”
Jim Hightower, author of
Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush
W. W. Norton & Co.
A Kidnapping in Milan
The CIA on Trial
“[A] real-life thriller [with] many well-drawn characters . . . skillfully crafted, highly disturbing.”
“Steve Hendricks is a gifted writer as well as a dogged sleuth, a combination that turns this account—a journey through some of the darker mazes of the war on terror—into one of those rarities: an important story, excellently told.”
Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer
and author of The Fall of Baghdad
“Exceptionally well written and deeply reported—a gripping novel-like book that brilliantly reconstructs one of the darker episodes of the ‘war on terror.’ ”
Peter Bergen, CNN national security
analyst and author of Holy War, Inc.
“[A]n utterly fascinating account . . . This is a how-not-to book on tradecraft that should be read and heeded.”
Book club selection.
Vanity Fair’s Hot Type
US News & World Report’s Political Book Club
“If the first half of the book carries all the insider tradecraft and shifting alliances of a John le Carré spy novel, the second half of the book becomes a script for a pilot episode of ‘Law & Order: Milan’. . . . Much like le Carré, Hendricks builds his plot through a combination of biographies of multiple characters and cultural histories of multiple organizations. . . . before allowing them to clash in carefully rendered scenes of intense action. In less confident hands, these biographical and historical accounts might grow tedious, but each page carries enough surprising fact and artful phrase to carry the reader forward.”
“Hendricks’ writing is propulsive, even when he backtracks into historical footnotes to provide a well-rounded purview, and voraciously readable in a Graham Greene-ish sort of way. . . . A Kidnapping in Milan is white-knuckle intrigue, exemplary journalism and capricious history disguised as yet another true-crime spy tale. Certain sections are darkly funny, others understatedly gut-wrenching.”
“Hendricks knows the United States and Italy and how to write about one for readers in the other. His remarks on Italian culture are outdone only by his background on Muslim terrorism, his account of who this kidnapping victim was, and the inclusion of dialogue picked up by Italian wiretaps of terrorism suspects’ private conversations. But just as terrific reading are Hendricks’ histories of the practice of rendition, of the use of torture, of U.S.-Italian relations, of domestic Italian terrorism, and of modern Egypt. . . . The torture [Abu Omar] received is described in all of its almost unbearable detail, [but] believe it or not, most of this book is enjoyable.”
“Hendricks combines journalistic clarity with the structure of a detective novel in Kidnapping, giving his book the urgency of a modern thriller, all the more striking for its cold reality. The book is well-researched . . . but Kidnapping never reads as a dry recitation of facts or a ponderous series of analyses. . . . Guiding the narrative is a refined sense of moral outrage against the idea that dark deeds done in the dark make our world somehow safer.”
“Are later dinners making us sick?” [Salon, 2022]
“What if we just buy off Big Fossil Fuel?” [CounterPunch, 2018]
“5,000 to 1!” [Slate, 2016]
“Bernie Sanders can’t win?” [Columbia Journalism Review, 2015]
“The Rise of Big Generic” [Truthout, 2015]
“Starving Your Way to Vigor” [Harper’s, 2012]
“Un ayunador no es un muerto de hambre” [Etiqueta Negra, 2012]
(Spanish version of “Starving Your Way to Vigor”)
“The Empty Stomach: Fasting to Beat Jet Lag” [Harper’s, 2012]
“Promised Land” [Orion, 2005]
“The Singer” [DoubleTake, 2000]
“Doctor of Death and Deceit” [Washington Post, 2011]
“History’s few originals” [San Francisco Chronicle, 2004]
“Brown and Out” [Grist, 2004]
“Crossing the line—a risky journey of hope” [San Francisco Chronicle, 2004]
“Blinded by the rockets’ red glare” [San Francisco Chronicle, 2004]
“The Conflicted Legacy of Dennis Banks” [CounterPunch, 2017]
“Trump’s Decent Willing Executioners, Liberally Explained” [CounterPunch, 2016]
“Hillary Clinton and the Northern Strategy” [CounterPunch, 2016]
“Come Again? Second Thoughts on Ashley Madison” [CounterPunch, 2015]
“Smeared again: The mainstream media v. Bernie Sanders” [Boulder Weekly, 2015]
“The Ghost of Anna Mae” [CounterPunch, 2014]
“Climate Devastation, Anyone?” [Salon, 2013]
“Panama Nails a CIA Torture Capo” [CounterPunch, 2013]
“More Torture, Please” [CounterPunch and History News Network, 2010]
“Thanksgiving We Can Believe In” [CounterPunch and Common Dreams, 2008]
“Unquiet Eternities” [Jesus’ General, 2007]
“Little Bighorn memorial a mixed symbol at best” [Denver Post, 2003]
“Fleece or Flannel?” [Boston Globe, 1998]