A thoughtful message, movingly yet unsentimentally presented by a physician alert to medicine’s human as well as its...

THE ANATOMY OF HOPE

HOW PEOPLE PREVAIL IN THE FACE OF ILLNESS

Doctor/author Groopman (Second Opinions, 2000, etc.) insightfully examines the nature of hope and the role it plays in recovery from illness.

Stories from his medical education and 30 years of practice reveal what New Yorker staff writer Groopman (Medicine/Harvard) has learned about the connections between hope and illness. He was still in medical school when an Orthodox Jewish woman confided in him that she believed her cancer was a punishment from God. “Well prepared for the science [but] pitifully unprepared for the soul,” Groopman was unable to reach out and give her the hope she needed to pursue a course of therapy. Then, as a young resident, he followed an older doctor’s lead in offering false hope to a terminally ill woman, a disturbing experience that subsequently led him to veer too far in the direction of hope-crushing cold facts as a specialist in oncology and hematology. Perhaps the most powerful story Groopman tells is about a professor of pathology who, in full possession of all the grim facts about his stomach cancer, nevertheless held onto hope, persisted in excruciating therapy, and survived. From his patients, the author observed that hope is at the very heart of healing, whether it derives from faith in God and belief in an afterlife or from a personal philosophy that gives meaning to life and mortality. The author’s personal experience of pain, frustration, and despair was also instructive. After suffering severe back pain for 19 years, Groopman followed the advice of a physician to seek relief by changing his beliefs about pain and acting on those new beliefs. Experiencing for himself the physical changes caused by regained hope, he began to question neurologists, experimental psychologists, and others about the biology of hope. He relates their discoveries here, going on to consider why some people can sustain hope but others cannot and clearly delineating the difference between false hope and true hope.

A thoughtful message, movingly yet unsentimentally presented by a physician alert to medicine’s human as well as its scientific side.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2004

ISBN: 0-375-50638-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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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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