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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009



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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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