An imperative analysis that begs for discussion by industry watchdogs and consumers alike.

KILLER CARE

HOW MEDICAL ERROR BECAME AMERICA'S THIRD LARGEST CAUSE OF DEATH, AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT

A succinct, disturbing report on the prevalence of malpractice in modern medicine.

Pittsburgh-based employment attorney Lieber (Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks of the “Supermarket to the World,” Archer Daniels Midland, 2000, etc.) assesses medical error with a straightforward approach and provides chilling results. A victim of misdiagnosis himself, he believes “medical errors always have been with us.” The author examines a number of cases, including college freshman Libby Zion’s untimely death in 1984, Floridian Willie King’s grievous amputation error, and Jesica Santillan’s death due to the mismatched blood type of an organ transplant. Fortunately, Lieber doesn’t decorate his study with scare tactics or confusing jargon; his perspective is clearly that of an informed consumer concerned with the welfare of those seeking American medical care. He cites a downward attitudinal shift in perception of professional clinical care which began in the 1990s, when a bloom of malpractice cases—which Lieber lists in chilling succession—initiated disclosure clauses and fostered quality improvement and monitoring initiatives. The media firestorm became fueled by further exposure from celebrities like Dana Carvey, Dennis Quaid, and the late Andy Warhol (and more recently, Joan Rivers), who all were on the receiving end of lethal or potentially lethal medical negligence. The malpractice statistical data borne from the ensuing scrutiny of medical centers became a startling wake-up call for the industry at large. The book’s second half is perhaps more user-friendly from a consumer standpoint, as the author provides illuminating, cautionary chapters focusing on avoiding prescription medication blunders, the rampant politicization of the health care spectrum, and the inherent dangers lurking within the “maze-like, chaotically organized acute and long-term care institutions.” While not a medical professional, Lieber does offer proactive patient advice for those seeking to reduce the risk of infection or injury while hospitalized. He concludes with a hopeful appeal to medical environments to be more vigilant about performance standards.

An imperative analysis that begs for discussion by industry watchdogs and consumers alike.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-682190-10-4

Page Count: 282

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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

INTO THE WILD

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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