An expert bottoms-up examination of our diseased health care system.



A fierce denunciation of American medicine in which physicians are the heroes—mostly.

Doctors Dean and Talbot, founders of a nonprofit called The Moral Injury of Healthcare, explain that “moral injury” occurs when we experience something that transgresses our beliefs. For doctors, that means the oath to put patients’ needs first. It’s no secret that doctors must now comply with powerful stakeholders in the system, including insurers, hospital administrators, and oppressive regulators, as well as lugubrious electronic medical records. Stories of health care workers suffering “burnout” fill the media, but most blame overwork aggravated by the pandemic. Not so, maintain the authors. The culprit is moral injury, the result of applying aggressive, modern business methods to medical practice. In the introduction, the authors describe a dynamic entrepreneur whose massive hospital earned huge profits by minimizing staff and maximizing testing and services whether necessary or not, and perhaps breaking the law. Finally sent away with a golden parachute, he was replaced by another entrepreneur who promised “significant value for our shareholders.” As the authors demonstrate consistently, hospital executives see themselves as responsible to stockholders, not to physicians or patients. This includes many nonprofits, whose administrators give profits priority and benefit from them. Dean and Talbot profile the work of physicians forced to endure moral injury who then try, sometimes successfully, to find a practice more to their liking. In the final chapter, they deliver a passionate plea for more sensible and better enforced government regulation and more generous reimbursement from public and private insurance. Neither seems on the horizon. Sadly, heartless, assembly-line health care is more profitable than the good kind and, despite lurid stories, only slightly less effective. Doctors and patients hate it, but in a nation that worships the free market, profit is evidence of a well-run institution. Pair this powerful book with an equally painful yet important view from the top: Brian Alexander’s The Hospital.

An expert bottoms-up examination of our diseased health care system.

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781586423544

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Steerforth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.


The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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