Incendiary stuff—and fuel for those who urge reforms in the health-care system.

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SEVERED TRUST

WHY AMERICAN MEDICINE HASN’T BEEN FIXED

A worm’s-eye view of why American medicine is in such bad shape, and what can be done to heal it.

Lundberg made national news a couple of years back for being fired as editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. He was removed from his influential post not, he recalls, for his activist stand on matters such as nuclear weaponry and universal health-care coverage, but because he had been perhaps a little too openly critical of American hospitals’ increasing failure to perform autopsies on patients who had died within their walls. Only about 10 percent of such deaths are followed by autopsies, which, Lundberg argues, constitutes a lapse in quality control. “Think of it this way,” he writes. “Where would teaching be without testing students? Where would banking be without auditors? . . . Where would airline pilots be without air traffic controllers? That is where medicine would be without the autopsy. It is the one place where truth can be sought, found, and told without conflict of interest.” Now editor of an online medical-information service, Lundberg still has plenty to say about autopsies, one of many subjects he covers in this highly critical study. He also has much to say about the transformation of American medicine into a provider of cures and not care, wedded to enormously complex and expensive technology and to an inflationary, self-serving system where staggering costs are the unquestioned order of the day. “The system,” he writes, “is set to jump into interventions, some entailing considerable risks, while it largely neglects giving attention, comfort, and reassurance to patients.” He proposes reining in surgical interventions that have become too freely used (such as the coronary artery bypass graft, as commonly dispensed as aspirin, it seems) and banning direct-to-consumer medical advertising, which, he believes, squanders health-care dollars and commercializes a profession that, in the end, ought to be above mere dollars.

Incendiary stuff—and fuel for those who urge reforms in the health-care system.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-465-04291-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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