A compelling story of medical tragedy.

Waking Up Blind


Harbin (The Business Side of Medicine, 2012, etc.) investigates medical misadventure and malpractice at the top of the ophthalmology profession.

In 1983, H. Dwight Cavanagh, a professor of ophthalmology and department chairman at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, prepared to do a corneal transplant on his patient. As usual, he was pressed for time, as he normally scheduled up to 13 procedures per day. His colleagues had previously expressed concern about his habit of biting off more than he could chew, and on this day, Harbin writes, the doctor’s overzealousness caught up with him, resulting in a botched operation that blinded his patient. The doctor eventually lost his job and titles—a small price to pay for such mayhem. Harbin tells an engaging story of a doctor that came to believe in his own infallibility and whose greed and thirst for power caused his patients irreparable harm. One sad element of the story, as presented by the author, is that the doctor’s malpractice didn’t go unnoticed by his peers; unfortunately, his status had long prevented accusations and complaints from being dealt with appropriately. If not for two conscientious doctors, the crimes might have been swept under the rug. The story covers events that occurred over the course of many years, necessitating gaps in chronology, but readers will never have a sense that they’re missing anything. The fact that Harbin is a physician adds immeasurably to his account’s integrity and believability, and his use of layman’s terms will make it easy for mainstream readers to understand. As a result, this narrative of medical misadventure is likely to interest anyone who’s ever put their faith and trust in a doctor.

A compelling story of medical tragedy.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1934938874

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Langdon Street Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2013

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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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