WHICH COUNTRY HAS THE WORLD'S BEST HEALTH CARE?

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

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 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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