Friday, August 11, 2006

Loved this book!

My daughter gave me Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, which is mostly about the early work and life of Paul Farmer. (I say "early" because Dr Farmer is slightly younger than I am, which means, of course, that he's still just a young man with lots left to do.) I finally picked the book up about a week ago and could hardly put it down. I've seen references to Paul Farmer in other blogs, so I expect some of you have read the book, but for those that haven't, it's a treat that shouldn't be missed!

Because Farmer is currently active and the context is recent current events, the narrative is very easy to connect with. In addition, Farmer is simultaneously both very human and peerless. A top medical expert in infectious disease, an accomplished anthropologist, a workaholic, a passionate and articulate visionary, a humanitarian, in short, a modern-day Albert Schweitzer, if not so religiously oriented. But fear not; this is not 330 pages of unadulterated praise for an idealized icon. We learn about how the world works in specific ways around providing health services to the very poor. We learn about the difficulty of accomplishing large scale programs on the tight budgets that are reality at the WHO. We learn how programs must be constrained in order to garner support, but how these constraints can have very deleterious, counter-productive effects. We learn about the economics and incentives around the manufacturing and pricing of second line drugs. We also learn about numerous other remarkable people besides Farmer. And, yes, we see some of Farmer's warts, too. We see that, despite so much bad news that we hear, there really are remarkable successes that can encourage us. We are inspired, yes, but also wiser.

Better than fiction; better than historical biography. This is my new favorite book.

If you're not a reader (well, okay, if you're not a book reader), then take a peek at the organization that he cofounded and which supports his work and the work of others: Partners in Health. And of course, there's a Wikipedia page on Farmer as well, but if you're like me you'll enjoy the book more if you haven't read the article first.


Blogger Joobie said...

I'm so glad you liked the book, Dad. :) I've always got my eyes open for literature that interest you as you make progress on the path to World Peace and activism.

11:51 PM  

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