Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World Paperback – Aug 31 2004
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From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Thought-provoking and profoundly satisfying, this book will inspire feelings of humility, admiration, and disquietude; in some readers, it may sow the seeds of humanitarian activism. As a specialist in infectious diseases, Farmer's goal is nothing less than redressing the "steep gradient of inequality" in medical service to the desperately poor. His work establishing a complex of public health facilities on the central plateau of Haiti forms the keystone to efforts that now encompass initiatives on three continents. Farmer and a trio of friends began in the 1980s by creating a charitable foundation called Partners in Health (PIH, or Zanmi Lasante in Creole), armed with passionate conviction and $1 million in seed money from a Boston philanthropist. Kidder provides anecdotal evidence that their early approach to acquiring resources for the Haitian project at times involved a Robin Hood type of "redistributive justice" by liberating medical equipment from the "rich" (Harvard) and giving to the "poor" (the PIH clinic). Yet even as PIH has grown in size and sophistication, gaining the ability to influence and collaborate with major international organizations because of the founders' energy, professional credentials, and successful outcomes, their dedicated vision of doctoring to the poor remains unaltered. Farmer's conduct is offered as a "road map to decency," albeit an uncompromising model that nearly defies replication. This story is remarkable, and Kidder's skill in sequencing both dramatic and understated elements into a reflective commentary is unsurpassed.
Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Kidder, a master documentarian, has primarily practiced his art on his home turf, Massachusetts, proving that one small place abounds in amazing stories. Now, in his most compelling chronicle to date, this Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner investigates a far harsher world in the company of Paul Farmer, a radical public health reformer devoted to providing medical care to the poor, mainly in Haiti. A Harvard-educated medical anthropologist, TB expert, and MacArthur "genius" gifted with an unshakable moral imperative, an ardent imagination, and limitless energy, compassion, and chutzpah, Farmer created Partners in Health, a renegade yet hugely influential organization. A powerful presence, this uncompromising visionary is too spectacularly impressive not to be disconcerting, and Kidder shares his puzzlement over and occasional discomfort with this charismatic and tirelessly giving man who eschews personal comfort to care for the "underdogs of the underdogs." As Kidder accompanies Farmer on his exhausting and risky daily routines and epic travels, he parses the cruel realities of deep poverty and the maddening politics of international health care. Most importantly, Kidder portrays a genuinely inspired and heroic individual, whose quest for justice will make every reader examine her or his life in a new light. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
A natural leader, his influence has drawn nations together in
their fight against poverty, hunger and disease. This is the most important story Tracy Kidder has told. Farmer's constant questioning of why some individuals need so much wealth, when most of the world goes hungry, is not an easy thing to take.
Should be required reading for high school seniors.
Our society is based on always going for the win. Dr. Farmer works outside that parameter. He doesn't expect to win. "We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it's not worth it. So you fight the long defeat." "I don't care if we lose, I'm gonna try to do the right thing...And then all the victories are gravy, you know?"
"The best thing about Paul Farmer is those hikes." Dr. Paul Farmer walks four hours to do a home visit for one child. He had already cured the child, but the child is part of a system, a family and home. The system also has to be treated for the child to stay well. "You have to believe that small gestures matter, that they do add up."
That to me was the most amazing thing about this book. Farmer travels the world raising money, speading the word of the need for treatment of drug resistant TB, setting up programs in other countries, yet he always comes back to the most important thing of treating one person at a time and improving their individual surroundings.
Farmer doesn't play by the rules, doesn't wait for approval or outside help, he works non-stop and is grateful when help arrives. As other reviewers have suggested, contributions sent to Paul Farmer will be used for the nitty gritty, no high paid executives here.
As an aside, this book is interesting reading currently due to the recent events in Haiti.
Paul Farmer is a brilliant, witty man and a passionate crusader for health care for all.
Tracy Kidder's writing makes for an easy and informative read.
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in public health, the social determinants of health or how to be a better global citizen.
The book follows Farmer through several of his travels and treatments. It also provides background information about him, PIH, and health situations in the places that he visits. The book gives a glimpse into medical conditions, such as tuberculosis, that are huge problems in many impoverished areas. Tuberculosis is particularly troublesome since it has multiple drug-resistant strains and some of the methods used to treat it in impoverished areas increases the occurrence of the drug-resistant strains, which could eventually infect anyone anywhere. So although it isn’t currently a major problem in wealthier countries, it could become a world-wide issue if addressed incorrectly now in the impoverished areas.
The book is enjoyable, being a biography of sorts, as opposed to just presenting hard cold facts. It helps keep the human element in focus – these are living, breathing, feeling human beings.
I listened to the audiobook. The reading of the book is a bit monotone and bland and you can tell when he’s stopped and then restarted reading at a different time because there’s such and obvious difference to his voice.
Most recent customer reviews
A really inspiring story. Would recommend it to those who are interested in health and related topics.Published 7 months ago by Shania
You may think he is crazy, or a commie, or a dreamer but you have to admire Paul Farmer. I think most likely he is a truly good genius. Read morePublished on June 21 2004 by Gitano
Being in the international public health field this books feels very close to home. It explores a sentiment that many fail to understand - the dedication, support, hope and... Read morePublished on May 22 2004
The work of Paul Farmer and the conditions in the world that motivate him are presented in a compelling eye-opening narrative that makes a good read. Read morePublished on May 13 2004 by Caldwell
As a public health professional who has followed the work of Partners In Health and read much of Paul Farmer's work, I assumed that Mountains Beyond Mountains would be an... Read morePublished on May 8 2004
"Mountains Beyond Mountains" is absorbing and Paul Farmer to be truly amazing. However, there is something quite troubling about this book. Read morePublished on April 30 2004 by Hugh Pearson
Let's face it, grade-inflation plagues amazon.com. I mean, really, how many five-star books are there? Well, "Mountains Beyond Mountains" is one. Read morePublished on April 23 2004