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Muñoz offers little turning of new ground in what has become a fertile genre, but the book is enjoyably idiosyncratic and...

From physician Muñoz, a chronicle of becoming a doctor at the extremely demanding Johns Hopkins cardiology program.

After an introduction, the opening section of this memoir of a year of fellowship rotations at Johns Hopkins hospital—a fellowship is a three-to-four–year, post-residency position overseeing residents while being overseen by an attending specialist—is ill-advised. The author drones on about his pedigree—Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Johns Hopkins again—the odds of becoming a Hopkins Fellow (1 in 10,000), and the Navy SEAL–like training involved (the book’s title speaks volumes), and it exudes smug superiority. But forgive these mercifully few pages to get a quite satisfying immersion into what medical specialization requires. Muñoz thankfully shifts from embarrassingly tedious to humanely sympathetic as he chronicles how he had to acquire a measure of expertise in what can be described as stations of the cardiology cross: consultation, nuclear medicine, heart failure and transplantation, intensive care, electrophysiology, echocardiography, and more. The author is honest enough to admit which tasks bored him, which opened him up to the big picture—how a heart transplant is not just about blood type, but “habits, foibles, fears”—which attending doctors he admired and why (“Dr. Franklin’s ability to listen and connect with his patients also means that they are often extremely well informed”), or why not to jump to fast conclusions. Muñoz has nothing new to say about some old questions—“Why are we allowed to make these calls over people’s fates? Who are we to decide? It’s fair. It’s not fair. Someone has to do it. No one should do it”—and he pays no more than lip service to the critical quality of empathy. He shines, however, in explaining a wide variety of conditions, and there is polish to the patient vignettes, giving them deeply human appeal.

Muñoz offers little turning of new ground in what has become a fertile genre, but the book is enjoyably idiosyncratic and elucidative.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6887-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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