Books by Stephen Klaidman

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 3, 2013

"An enjoyable extended footnote to the lives of the better known."
An engaging account of an author and his editor wife who may be obscure even to critics of modernist literature. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 9, 2007

"The book reveals a troubling situation, but unfortunately it's a tedious read."
A dogged attempt to shed light on the troubling nexus between money and medicine through the story of two doctors in Redding, Calif., who generated enormous fees for themselves and for the Redding Medical Center by performing highly questionable procedures. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 1, 2000

Entertaining, enlightening, and often hair-raising: a history of the development of medical and surgical treatments for coronary-artery disease. Klaidman (Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown Univ.; Health in the Headlines, 1991, etc.) looks at how the contributions of various clinicians, biomedical engineers, and entrepreneurs developed the patchwork of options used by today's physicians. His starting point is the 16th-century anatomists who first drew the details of the heart's structure, showing the coronary arteries (those vessels that serve the heart muscle itself). He fast-forwards to 1912, when James Herrick published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in which, "by careful comparison of the symptoms of living patients to those who died and were shown to have blocked arteries, [he] demonstrated that coronary artery disease was recognizable in living patients." Klaidman's realistic description of how Werner Forssmann was able to perform the first cardiac catheterization—on himself!—in 1929 is particularly unsettling, but as the author makes clear, he was far from the only inventor—guinea pig working in this field. After tracing the development of the heart-lung machine and, from there, bypass surgery in all its incarnations, Klaidman pays homage to numerous individual heart patients who died to pave the way to the current state of the art—many lost during procedures that would not be allowed under today's ethical guidelines. Then he addresses what sort of temperament and training make a successful cardiac surgeon. Throughout, his narrative is illustrated with gripping clinical accounts, like that of a man who woke up to feel "my chest . . . collapsing in on me. . . . I had a pain like someone had attached a 220 electric line to my chest. . . . I thought: ‘Well, this is really interesting, it's 6:20 a.m. and I'm having a heart attack.—" This patient's treatment and prognosis make clear what advances in heart treatment mean in human terms. An eye-opening account, tied in to today's reality. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Is health-risk reporting hazardous to your health? Quite possibly, according to former journalist Klaidman, now a research fellow at Georgetown, who here casts a critical eye on how the news media have handled various health-risk issues. Following a general discussion of health-risk assessment for the lay reader, Klaidman devotes a chapter to each of seven hazards: the pesticide EDB, radon, nuclear power, global warming, AIDS, cholesterol, and smoking (why he chose these particular stories is not revealed). Among Klaidman's concerns are how and to what degree public policy is influenced by the news media, how journalism's zest for controversy polarizes complex issues, and how the media are manipulated by interested parties to achieve their goals. Klaidman does a workmanlike job of analyzing how each story developed and how its handling influenced public thinking and public policy. He closes each chapter with an assessment of the news media's performance, and end-of-chapter notes document his research on the coverage of each story. The final chapter sums up Klaidman's findings and offers the unsurprising conclusion that there is room for improvement in the reporting of health-risk stories. For the public, he prescribes a dose of healthy skepticism, cautioning readers/viewers to be aware of the tendency of the media to exaggerate risks to make a story more dramatic, to be alert to the economic and political motivations of those making claims and counterclaims, not to place trust in any single news source, and not to expect clear- cut answers to complex scientific questions. Perhaps to avoid an excess of journalistic zeal, Klaidman has produced a well-researched, but somewhat bland, collection of case studies that offer a glimpse behind the scenes and some advice on how to read between the lines. Read full book review >