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August 13, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

CATCHING MY BREATH: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness by Tim Brookes (Vintage: $12; 294 pp.). Classified as an obstructive, reversible airways disease, asthma has become an increasingly common--and increasingly fatal--illness in the United States. Although medical evidence suggests that the disease has genetic, physical, psychological and environmental components, inner-city children seem to be particularly at risk. Frustrated by the failure of conventional medicine to predict or prevent his near-fatal attacks, journalist and NPR commentator Brookes investigated asthma, reviewing the literature and talking to doctors and alternative practitioners. His informal blend of research and anecdote is entertaining and informative.

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