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A highly pleasurable must-read.

A revealing, often disturbing look at what goes on in doctors’ minds when treating patients, plus some advice to patients on how to work with their doctors to improve that process.

Oncologist and New Yorker staff writer Groopman (The Anatomy of Hope, 2004, etc.) draws on conversations and interviews with other doctors, research in the field and his own experiences as both doctor and patient to unravel the question of how doctors reach a diagnosis and decide on a treatment. While the clinical algorithms and practice guidelines that medical students are taught and that are promoted by hospital administrators and insurance companies are useful in many cases, he argues that they discourage doctors from thinking creatively when symptoms are vague and test results inconclusive. Groopman categorizes the kinds of errors in thinking that doctors can make (drawing on stereotypes, thinking too narrowly, clinging to an original diagnosis while ignoring later evidence), and he uses real cases as examples. In one, doctors who diagnose a Vietnamese infant as having a rare inherited disease are only persuaded otherwise by the adoptive mother’s insistence on retesting her blood. In another, various doctors continue to accept an initial misdiagnosis over a 15-year period until one doctor makes the correct diagnosis by taking the time to question and observe the patient closely and pay attention to her answers. When Groopman receives four different diagnoses and plans for treatment for his painful, inflamed right hand, he consults a fifth specialist, and together they analyze the types of cognitive errors that led to the series of misdiagnoses. His revelations about the performance records of radiologists and others who must read and interpret tests will be disconcerting to anyone expecting technology to produce certainty, and his chapter on the influential marketing tactics of pharmaceutical manufacturers will dismay those expecting doctors to demonstrate objectivity. In an epilogue, Groopman speaks directly to the would-be patient, offering pertinent questions that one might direct to his or her physician to promote broader thinking about an ailment.

A highly pleasurable must-read.

Pub Date: March 19, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-61003-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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