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Mountains beyond Mountains (2003)

by Tracy Kidder

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4,3141402,022 (4.14)296
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." From the Hardcover edition.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
Adapted for adolescent readers, this book chronicles the work of humanitarian doctor Paul Farmer as he travels to poor countries bringing modern health care to those who need it most.
  NCSS | Jul 23, 2021 |
For Grades: 6-12

Positive Worldview/Messages ****
Positive Role Models & Representation ****
Violence **
Romance/Sex *
Questionable Language *
Drinking, Drugs, & Smoking**
Educational Value ***** ( )
  GCMS | Jun 19, 2021 |
Sometimes you read about people who seem almost unreal. Too smart (Isaac Newton), too inventive (Lord Kelvin), too dominating (Alexander the Great), too dedicated (John D. Rockefeller); they seem like fictional characters, too superlative to exist in the same everyday world that actual people do. Paul Farmer is one of those people who manages to both inspire you and make you feel like a complete waste of carbon atoms at the same time: a genius doctor whose personal mission is to cure horrific diseases in third world countries with an inhuman effective combination of genius diagnostic skills, limitless personal nobility, and tireless effort. The book concentrates mostly on his efforts to eliminate tuberculosis from Haiti, but along the way the author gradually reveals that he does this stuff all over the world, from Russia to Peru to America, and it almost seems like his crusade is to banish disease from the entire planet. It also seems like he'll actually succeed too, due to sheer willpower and a bottomless well of humanity. I read this book right after the Haitian earthquake, and in between feeling bummed that this guy was accomplishing thousands of times more good in the world than I do I also felt bummed that so much of his Partners in Health agency's work in the country was undone. Still, this was ultimately a very positive and life-affirming book about a genuine hero, I promise you won't feel like a slothful amoeboid for too long afterwards. ( )
1 vote aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
A very interesting story about Paul Farmer, Partners in Heath and public health. A more focused book might have been more powerful, but the author combines a plethora of distracting detail.
It will be interesting to see how it compares to Farmer's 2020 book Fevers, Feuds and Diamonds. ( )
  MM_Jones | Feb 16, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (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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Epigraph
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"

Dedication
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."
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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." From the Hardcover edition.

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