A reasoned, well-balanced, highly readable account, especially welcome as the national debate over health care gets underway.



A timely survey—filled with important lessons for the United States—of how other nations have created systems that provide universal health care for their citizens.

Washington Post correspondent and NPR commentator Reid (The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy, 2004, etc.) sees the health-care issue as a moral question to which all other technologically developed countries have responded well, creating affordable, effective systems. The author outlines four basic models: the Bismarck, in which both health-care providers and payers are private; the Beveridge, in which “health care is provided and financed by the government, through tax payments”; the National Health Insurance (NHI) model, in which the providers are private but everyone pays into a government-run insurance program; and the out-of-pocket model, in which the patient pays with no insurance or government help. Elements of all four are present in the United States. The author took his own health problem—a stiff, painful shoulder—to doctors in France, Germany and Japan to see how the Bismarck model worked; to Great Britain to assess the Beveridge model; to Canada to look at the NHI model; and to India, where the patient pays out of pocket. He also went to Switzerland and Taiwan, two countries that have recently reformed their health-care systems, to see how they accomplished major overhauls. Reid’s personal experiences with doctors and hospitals make for entertaining reading—especially his encounter with Ayurvedic medicine—and his stories of patients who have been unable to get necessary health care are moving. More important, these anecdotes are embedded in solid research. The author provides a capsule history of each system, discusses its drawbacks as well as benefits and destroys some popular myths about so-called socialized medicine. Though he offers many image-shattering statistics that reveal how poorly the United States stacks up against other countries, the author’s message is essentially optimistic: We can learn from the experience of other countries and use that knowledge to create a more efficient and humane system.

A reasoned, well-balanced, highly readable account, especially welcome as the national debate over health care gets underway.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59420-234-6

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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