Worthy reading for medical students and practitioners but also applicable to other fields: artists, writers, musicians,...

ATTENDING

MEDICINE, MINDFULNESS, AND HUMANITY

Can the encounter between doctor and patient be improved? A renowned family physician thinks so, and he explains how in this compendium of a lifetime of experience.

In chapters with titles like Being Mindful, Beginner’s Mind, Curiosity, Being Present, and Responding to Suffering, Epstein (Family Medicine, Psychiatry and Oncology/Univ. of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry) reminds us that “attending” is shorthand for the chief physician in charge of a specific case, but he also emphasizes how it describes a way of being present in the moment, sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of the patient. If that patient is suffering, the doctor must show compassion but also keep in mind the importance of avoiding burnout. Epstein contrasts this kind of attending with the hurried 15-minute encounter so common today, in which the doctor pronounces a diagnosis and a prescription while turning away to another case or the computer. Taking the time to truly engage can make all the difference in arriving at the correct diagnosis, gaining trust and compliance from the patient, and, over time, becoming a master in the field. In difficult terminal cases, for example, when the doctor hears the dreaded question, “what would you do if you were me?” it means pausing, not saying anything right away, and then asking more questions to arrive at what Epstein calls a “shared mind.” Much of the meaning of “attending,” as the author uses it, relates to the practice of meditation, and he offers some guidance on how to concentrate attention so the mind is not distracted or wandering. But Epstein is no spiritual preacher, and this is no New Age text. The author richly illustrates his arguments with case histories and stories of near mishaps in surgeries.

Worthy reading for medical students and practitioners but also applicable to other fields: artists, writers, musicians, teachers et al. can also fall into formulaic ruts and autopilot behavior and need literally to change their minds.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2171-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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

NIGHT

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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