Engaging, sometimes-poignant, and occasionally acerbic stories from a longtime physician.

THE DOCTOR'S BLACK BAG

51 YEARS AS A GENERAL PHYSICIAN IN THE RURAL WEST

A collection of debut short essays recalling the author’s experiences during five decades as a general practitioner in the American Southwest.

After completing medical school at the University of Texas’ Medical Branch at Galveston in 1956 and an internship in Columbus, Ohio, Schmidt began his career in 1957 in Keams Canyon, Arizona, working for the United States Public Health Service on the Hopi Reservation, which is surrounded by the Navajo Reservation. Some of his most compelling anecdotes come from this period, as they offer a window on midcentury Hopi and Navajo lifestyles and cultures. By 1959, he was ready to try private practice, and so he, his wife, and their two young sons moved to Slaton, Texas, where he joined the practice of an older doctor. Schmidt writes that he “failed to thrive in Slaton” for a variety of reasons, including inexperience, and he felt that it was time to move on. In 1961, he joined the practice of a physician in Jal, New Mexico, and when the other practitioner unexpectedly departed for a surgery residency, he became its solo practitioner. After 11 years of being on call at all hours of the day and night, an emotionally and physically drained Schmidt moved his family once again, this time opening a practice in Yuma, Arizona, where he would remain for more than 23 years. This memoir, which has a fluid timeline that moves back and forth over more than four decades, is loaded with vignettes about Schmidt’s experiences with individual patients. As a result, it effectively illustrates the day-to-day life of a general practitioner before the days of medical conglomerates. He opens, for instance, with an amusing tale about Christmas Eve 1962, in Jal, when he was repeatedly called to the emergency room to treat patients’ injuries after they tried out skateboards they gave their kids. He also occasionally vents about Medicare regulations regarding such things as doorway widths and about “new societal norms” that discourage diagnostic physical contact, but he also counsels that doctors must always listen to what their patients are saying—and, yes, he has a story for that.

Engaging, sometimes-poignant, and occasionally acerbic stories from a longtime physician.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-09-831026-4

Page Count: 204

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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