Swartz is a witty, savvy, seasoned journalist, and she offers a welcome history of significant medical advances.

The legacy of heart-saving innovations viewed through the eyes of pioneering cardiologists.

Because heart disease, which “kills more people around the world than all the cancers combined,” is the primary threat to human health across the globe, it’s vital that researchers continue to develop new ways to fight and survive it. Spotlighting the efforts of a long series of medical trailblazers, Texas Monthly executive editor Swartz (co-author: Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron, 2003) charts the evolution of cardiac technologies. The author focuses on the personalities responsible for these breakthroughs and examines four Texans in particular and how their work has radically altered the surgical success and survival rates of heart patients worldwide. Swartz profiles several enterprising physicians at the forefront of this movement who were spurred to act swiftly “because advances in treating and curing heart disease weren’t coming fast enough.” Among them are determined coronary pioneer Michael DeBakey, risk-taking surgeon Denton Cooley, surgeon and “innovation evangelist” Billy Cohn, and the Texas Heart Institute’s Oscar “Bud” Frazier, a Vietnam veteran and tireless career cardiac surgeon whose specialty was transplantation and the left ventricular assist device. All four—in addition to many others—demonstrated drive and the creative innovation necessary to revolutionize the way heart patients survived and thrived through the development of new techniques and lifesaving devices. Even casually interested readers will become fascinated by Swartz’s vivid depiction of Frazier at work in the operating room. The author also analyzes the evolution of some admittedly dicey medical procedures and mechanical devices like the artificial heart, and she includes details on animal testing, a crucial necessity but no less heartbreaking for pet lovers. “Science isn’t always pretty,” writes the author, “metaphorically or literally.” The author adds breadth and perspective with sections covering the case histories of desperate patients who came to the Texas Heart Institute for medical intervention.

Swartz is a witty, savvy, seasoned journalist, and she offers a welcome history of significant medical advances.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3800-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



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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