A pleasure to read, thanks to the author’s ability to see her patients as individuals and to form a genuine connection with...

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INCIDENTAL FINDINGS

LESSONS FROM MY PATIENTS IN THE ART OF MEDICINE

A second collection of perceptive essays about Ofri’s continuing growth as physician, fulfilling the promise of Singular Intimacies (2003).

Now an attending physician at Bellevue, the author found that her journey to becoming a healer was filled with lessons learned from patients. After completing her residency in internal medicine at Bellevue, Ofri traveled in Mexico, studied Spanish, and worked in small-town hospitals. Her patients included an old man on Florida’s Gulf Coast with no will to live, a young woman in New England needing a hard-to-get abortion, and an impassive Navajo woman in New Mexico whose untreated acne troubled her more than the violence in her life; their cases reminded the author of the limits of her medical skills. On her return to Bellevue, her time was divided between the medical clinic, where she often followed patients for months or even years, and four-week-long stints on the medical wards, where her time with patients was intense but often cut off before their full stories could be known. Among the characters she chooses to profile here are a crotchety old man whose disposition improved when she bought him painting supplies and reading glasses, a disconnected adolescent whose outlook on life changed when she coached him for his SAT, a disturbed woman who faked symptoms to get medical care, and a depressed patient who refused needed treatment. In writing their stories, she is writing her own, Ofri asserts: “In a jungle, they say, you often can’t tell which root system connects to which leaves.” One of the most valuable lessons a doctor can learn, the author believes, is what it feels like to be a patient. Her prologue reveals just how disconcerting that experience is when she finds herself shaken and sore after amniocentesis and a sonogram; a later chapter describes the humiliation and helplessness she felt both during and after giving birth.

A pleasure to read, thanks to the author’s ability to see her patients as individuals and to form a genuine connection with them.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8070-7266-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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

NIGHT

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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