A persuasive argument for compassionate care.




A lucid explanation of palliative care and how it can help people die better.

“Americans are scared to death of dying,” writes Byock (The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living, 2004, etc.), director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Because the topic is depressing, politicians often won’t talk about it. Yet the way many Americans die remains a national disgrace, and caring for the coming deluge of aging and chronically ill Americans will soon pose a crisis. Byock draws on decades of experience to explain how palliative care—designed not to cure but to comfort people with advanced illnesses—helps patients and their families “make the best of what is often the very worst times of life.” Through the stories of patients, from a 72-year-old man with pancreatic cancer to a teenage girl with cystic fibrosis, he details the palliative approach to care, how families and health teams make difficult decisions and how improved quality of life can help patients die well. He shows how palliative physicians get to know their patients, use drugs and other interventions to alleviate pain and encourage patients to live fully and achieve postponed goals in their remaining time. One cancer patient, for instance, worked to resolve issues with his ex-wife and older children. In contrast, most critically ill individuals suffer needlessly, caught in a complex and costly health-care system that focuses on curing illnesses and fails to address personal suffering The author discusses recent research suggesting that palliative care can even help patients live longer. Once restricted to hospices, palliative care programs now exist in most hospitals with 200 beds or more, and studies show that such care can alleviate distressing symptoms among the seriously ill. Byock calls for an overhaul of national and local health-care systems to bring person- and family-centered care to people in fragile health and help them avoid all-too-frequent complications and crises.

A persuasive argument for compassionate care.

Pub Date: March 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58333-459-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avery

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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