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Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003)

by Tracy Kidder

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This is another excellent story of one man's quest to make a difference in the world. Dr. Paul Farmer (Harvard med. school grad) spends half the year in Haiti building clinics & helping the poorest nation in the world develop clean water systems, reliable sources of nutritious food, etc. Everyone should read this book!
  mfdavis | May 20, 2015 |
RGG: Both a memoir about Paul Farmer, a courageous ally, and an expose about the state of medical aid for the world's poor.
  rgruberhighschool | Apr 29, 2015 |
A disappointment from an author I usually enjoy. If you're not interested in painstakingly detailed descriptions of medical conditions in Latin America then this book is not for you. Granted, Dr. Farmer is heroic, brilliant and unconventional. And, in truth, I've never gotten very excited by medical stories of any kind. That said, with chapter after chapter describing horrible living conditions, life-threatening epidemics and heroic elf-sacrifice on the part of Dr. Farmer and a few of his colleagues, this book gets redundant very quickly. It would have made a fascinating magazine article, but as a (rather long) book, it's just not compelling. ( )
  echasc | Oct 26, 2014 |
If I was rating Paul Farmer, I'd give it 5 stars. The writing gets 3 stars because it didn't keep me engaged. I lost interest half way through and had to force myself to finish. ( )
  brahmsviolin | Jun 15, 2014 |
Dr. Paul Farmer is a man who has spent his adult life trying to bring better health care to poverty-stricken parts of the world, with most of his time spent in Haiti. Farmer's insistence on bringing quality care (not just "appropriate technology," which is shorthand for "inferior" or "whatever we can get away with") to places like Haiti, Peru, and the prisons of Russia is admirable. His relentless travel between countries as well as walking long distances to remote houses to see patients is hard to believe. How any human being could work so much, so consistently, under such difficult conditions, is nearly incomprehensible. His life consists of grant proposals, emails, seeing patients in developing countries, doing rotations in a US hospital, and lecturing at world health conferences. Hobbies? Not noticeably. Sleep? Not much. Personal life? During the time covered in the book, he does have a wife and child - who live in Paris.

Farmer's story is one of those that kind of run the risk of paralyzing would-be do-gooders instead of inspiring them. You hear his story and wonder how on earth you could possibly measure up, or wonder how altruistic you really are if you're not willing to sacrifice absolutely everything to make a difference. It seems from the book that Farmer realizes he is one in a million; he doesn't wonder why more people don't do as much as he does - he wonders why more people don't do *anything.* The author does a good job not being awestruck by Farmer; he doesn't canonize him. But Kidder does make it seem ridiculous that world health programs are so slow-moving, and don't work Farmer's way. I'm no expert on the issues, but I'm guessing that like with most things, the true best path lies somewhere in the middle. Or at least it does until each and every person in the world can be convinced to make their own small contribution. ( )
  ursula | May 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
''Mountains Beyond Mountains'' is inspiring, disturbing, daring and completely absorbing. It will rattle our complacency; it will prick our conscience.
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Beyond mountains there are mountains.
--Haitian proverb

. . . And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realized;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying . . .
--T. S. Eliot
"The Dry Salvages"

For Henry and Tim Kidder
First words
Six years after the fact, Dr. Paul Edward Farmer reminded me, "We met because of a beheading, of all things."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812973011, Paperback)

Tracy Kidder is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, Among Schoolchildren, and Home Town. He has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” This powerful and inspiring new book shows how one person can make a difference, as Kidder tells the true story of a gifted man who is in love with the world and has set out to do all he can to cure it.

At the center of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. This magnificent book shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable, and it also shows how a meaningful life can be created, as Farmer—brilliant, charismatic, charming, both a leader in international health and a doctor who finds time to make house calls in Boston and the mountains of Haiti—blasts through convention to get results.

Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that "the only real nation is humanity" - a philosophy that is embodied in the small public charity he founded, Partners In Health. He enlists the help of the Gates Foundation, George Soros, the U.N.’s World Health Organization, and others in his quest to cure the world. At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope, and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”: as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.

Mountains Beyond Mountains unfolds with the force of a gathering revelation,” says Annie Dillard, and Jonathan Harr says, “[Farmer] wants to change the world. Certainly this luminous and powerful book will change the way you see it.”

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A portrait of infectious disease expert Dr. Paul Farmer follows the efforts of this unconventional Harvard genius to understand the world's great health, economic, and social problems and to bring healing to humankind.

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