This work’s fervent argument leaves little room for legal nuances or an analysis of the challenges facing doctors who treat...

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THE LEGAL FELONY

A physician suspended for prescribing opioids puts his case under the microscope in this debut book.

America’s opioid epidemic has focused attention on doctors who negligently prescribe powerful painkillers, with some even being charged with murder in the overdose deaths of patients. In 2015, the Michigan Board of Medicine suspended the license of Youssef, an Egyptian native who supposedly prescribed more than 25,000 controlled substances in a year. Among other things, the board said he failed to “consider the use of other treatment modalities or non-narcotic medications for the treatment of pain.” But in his impassioned account of the case, Youssef argues he suffered a miscarriage of justice because of a “legal felony”—a doctrine that protects those who act in a “quasi-judicial” capacity from being sued over their actions. Quasi-judicial immunity, he asserts, is a “back window for committing crimes under the protection of the law” that enabled the officials involved in his disciplinary proceeding to ruin his life and injure thousands of his patients. “I was not the first one or the last to be destroyed,” he laments, adding that “hundreds of physicians have been injured by nonsense complaints and felonies of obstruction of justice under the haven of the absolute quasi-judicial immunity.” Youssef goes deep into the weeds of his case, reproducing verbatim documents filed with the administrative court and as part of an appeal. These are relatively intelligible compared to some of the author’s commentaries, which are marred by his haphazard command of English (“The Chairman of the Internal Medicine Program at Jamaica Hospital, who got 100 percent pass rate for five successive years, was looking for six years to be the only one in America”). There are some intriguing nuggets—for example, patients of a sanctioned doctor may find it difficult to get pain medication from another physician due to the “stigma of sanction.” But readers may tire of the book’s relentless polemic, in part because it doesn’t allow space for Youssef to reveal anything about himself or discuss the problems encountered by physicians treating chronic pain. He also fails to consider that quasi-judicial immunity promotes uninhibited, independent decision-making. The author may have a right to feel aggrieved, but rather than a “legal felony,” the doctrine may be a legal necessity.

This work’s fervent argument leaves little room for legal nuances or an analysis of the challenges facing doctors who treat chronic pain.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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