HOSPITAL

AN ORAL HISTORY OF COOK COUNTY HOSPITAL

In her debut, Studs Terkel protÇgÇe Lewis fumbles an attempt to create a portrait of Chicago's Cook County Hospital by recording the voices of its staff and a few patients. Subtitle notwithstanding, this is not truly the history of an institution that was established in the 19th century: Only a handful of individuals have recollections going back even to the 1940s and 1950s, and inner-city social problems get as much attention as the hospital itself. A portrait of sorts does emerge from Lewis's selections, all of which were recorded in 1993, and it is both comforting and horrifying. Many of the employees who were interviewed—doctors, nurses, administrators, housekeepers, elevator operators, etc.—care deeply about Cook County, and they work hard at their jobs, but the stories they tell reveal shortages and shabby physical conditions, mistakes and oversights by harried caregivers, and interminable waits by patients. Outside the hospital lurk poverty, homelessness, and increasing violence, which affect everything the staff tries to do about the multiple chronic illnesses, infectious diseases, and trauma that bring patients to Cook County's doors. Lewis's questions are not included, but she clearly sought her interviewees' thoughts on health care reform and the hospital's future. A single-payer plan of some kind is the favorite of those who have given thought to reform, and the medical staff speak hopefully of increasing community outreach through outpatient clinics that would stress prevention and primary care. Buried here is a picture of a system in crisis struggling to find its way, but the task of wading through more than 60 seemingly unedited and often redundant transcripts is a tedious one. A mountain of raw material out of which a useful book could have been shaped.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-56584-138-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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