A fresh and personal perspective on health care.

Swimming Upstream


A physician recalls his protracted battle with cancer.

One morning in 2012, debut author Iqbal was yanked out of a peaceful slumber by a lacerating pain below his left ear. Initially, he didn’t think much of it, but then his eye became irritated, and an ophthalmologist noticed that he was also suffering from a touch of facial paralysis. This led the author to make an appointment with a neurologist, who diagnosed him with a less-than-alarming case of Bell’s palsy. Specialists at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, he says, recommended a surgical procedure that would have implanted a layer of gold to allow the affected eye to blink. He decided against it, opting instead to have a metal spring inserted to accomplish the same result. However, some facial paralysis persisted; one surgeon even recommended a frighteningly invasive surgery that involved cutting into Iqbal’s skull and shifting his brain within it. But the author knew, as a trained physician, that recurrent attacks of Bell’s palsy are uncommon and that the condition isn’t progressive. He finally decided, after encouraging words from an old friend, to research the issue himself, as he was exasperated by what he interpreted as doctors’ willful blindness. He concluded he had cancer of the parotid gland, and when another physician confirmed his diagnosis, he was almost jubilant: “ ‘Hallelujah!’ I thought, breathing a big sigh of relief.” This memoir is an eye-opening read that is both chilling and informative. Iqbal helpfully discusses not only his medical tribulations, but also his family support system that made his equanimity under pressure possible—especially the influence of his parents. He also includes, at the end of the book, a section that offers medical and practical advice, as well as moral encouragement, to readers who might be wrestling with cancer in their own lives. The book offers not only an arresting remembrance, but also an inspirational one that’s filled with wisdom gained through difficult experience.

A fresh and personal perspective on health care.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 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 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...


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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