Students of health economics and policymakers will find the doctor’s diagnoses and prescriptions well worth considering.

WHICH COUNTRY HAS THE WORLD'S BEST HEALTH CARE?

A leading oncologist and medical ethicist turns a gimlet eye on the health care systems of the world’s leading economies and finds most of them wanting.

Where’s the best place in the world to be sick? To judge by Emanuel’s findings, if you have a condition that will allow you to live awhile, the U.S. isn’t bad; it leads the world in medical innovations and finding cures or treatments for unusual ailments. By other measures, the U.S. ranks well down the list of the 11 systems he analyzes here: “It significantly underperforms on numerous dimensions,” writes the author. China may be worse, in part because its system of health care is hospital-centric: “There are vanishingly few physician offices or other ambulatory centers to deliver care.” Consequently, with the current COVID-19 crisis, Chinese people needing treatment flooded the country’s hospitals and overwhelmed them. In many parts of that country, Emanuel writes, hospitals are few and far between, forcing patients to travel far from home for treatment. Canadians have it better except in the remoter reaches of the far north; Emanuel acknowledges that Canadian health care has its problems even while noting that conservative critics in the U.S. have vastly overestimated the problem of waiting times for treatment. Britain’s system is worse but not terrible. The author offers numerous methods for improving systems around the world. Some may be unpalatable to libertarian advocates of privacy. For example, Taiwan was able to keep a lid, relatively speaking, on COVID-19, because medical data are centralized with passports and other key documents, so that it was easy to identify Taiwanese who had visited mainland China and test and, if necessary, quarantine them. Among Emanuel’s recommendations are to provide universal coverage, simplify data flows and insurance programs, and regulate drug prices—which are sky-high in the U.S.

Students of health economics and policymakers will find the doctor’s diagnoses and prescriptions well worth considering.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-9773-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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