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A rather grandiose self-assessment that may appeal to someone whose life has been saved by the Heimlich maneuver—not likely...

A self-promoting memoir from the inventor of the abdominal thrust technique that bears his name.

A retired thoracic surgeon, Heimlich launches into his prideful narrative by relating how he faced and overcame anti-Semitism early in his career; how, as a 21-year-old camp counselor, he saved the life of a man trapped in a train wreck; and how, as a young medical officer in the U.S. Navy, he saved the sight of many Chinese soldiers by medicating their eyes with a concoction he invented. Some years after the war, Heimlich, working with dogs, developed a reverse gastric tube procedure that replaced or bypassed the esophagus, thus enabling patients with damaged ones to swallow (the author credits Romanian doctor Dan Gavriliu, who independently developed a similar procedure). Later, he designed a drainage mechanism with a flutter valve that prevented fluids or air from returning to the chest after surgery and an unobtrusive oxygen delivery device for patients with breathing problems. His best known achievement, however, is the Heimlich maneuver, a simple emergency technique that forces air out of the lungs of a choking person, enabling an object lodged in the airway to be expelled. This technique, writes the author, is also effective for treating asthma and victims of drowning. His ideas have not been universally accepted, and he is still battling with the Red Cross over its recommendation to first try back slaps on choking victims. Heimlich’s claim that malariotherapy (injections of malaria-infected blood) can be an effective treatment of HIV/AIDS patients has also met with opposition. Heimlich’s plainly written memoir, replete with pictures of himself and anecdotes featuring him with grateful patients, is not just a personal story but a sharp criticism of a medical system that he sees as too slow to accept or at least research controversial new ideas.

A rather grandiose self-assessment that may appeal to someone whose life has been saved by the Heimlich maneuver—not likely to reach a wider readership.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61614-849-2

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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