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HOW WE DO HARM

A DOCTOR BREAKS RANKS ABOUT BEING SICK IN AMERICA

A powerful contribution to the ongoing discussion on health-care reform.

With the assistance of investigative journalist Goldberg (The Final Act: The Dramatic, Revealing Story of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, 1988, etc.), Brawley (Medicine/Emory Univ.), chief medical scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, delivers a scathing indictment of the American medical system.

The authors provide solid documentation in support of the case that the American health system is fundamentally flawed, drawing on illustrative examples taken from his own experience as an oncologist as well as his expertise in public health. Brawley presents a shocking conclusion: “The system is not failing. It's functioning exactly as designed,” with “the greedy serving the gluttonous.” While low-income Americans are denied adequate medical care, the wealthy are also poorly served, often paying for unneeded treatments that can have dangerous side effects. The authors describe the case of a man whose experience was not atypical. While receiving chemotherapy as a precaution against cancer following colon surgery, he became too debilitated to work. When he could no longer afford the co-pays, he landed at Atlanta's Grady Hospital, which accepts patients with financial problems. After evaluating the patient's case, Brawley concluded that he was fortunate that his high-priced previous oncologist would no longer treat him, since he had mishandled the chemotherapy. “A negative wallet biopsy may have saved his life,” he writes ironically. Less fortunate was the breast-cancer patient who received a fatal bone-marrow transplant intended to reduce the risk of recurrence— a procedure based on positive data later proved to be fraudulent. Brawley provides citations from a variety of cases—pharmaceuticals that have dangerous side effects, unnecessary treatments for prostate cancer, etc.—including those of misguided patients who demanded excessive treatment and threatened lawsuits if it was denied.

A powerful contribution to the ongoing discussion on health-care reform.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-67297-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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NIGHT

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

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INTO THE WILD

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

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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