Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads: Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man who would Cure the World
Thu, 09/07/2006 - 10:12am by amy
This powerful and inspiring new book shows how one person can make a difference, as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy 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.
Paul Farmer is a doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist and the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant. In medical school, he 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.
The book shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable, and 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.
This is the only selection I have already read. I highly recommend it for its inspiring story, well told with ramifications far beyond Dr. Farmer's work. Due to its dramatic content, I believe it would be the most wide reaching and most read of the three recommended.
I've read this book and couldn't help but be moved by Farmer's unrelenting will to cure treatable diseases in the poorest parts of the world. As a result, I feel like I view the world differently now and even view myself and my own desire to contribute to the betterment of society differently. This is truly an inspiring book and I promote it to anyone who has an interest in global health or even just an interest in giving more to their fellow human.
I've read Mountains Beyond Mountains and was stunned by Farmer's drive and what he has accomplished. I couldn't help but ask, "What would happen if more of us cared like he does?" He is, without doubt, a very bright light in a very murky world.
I finished reading Mountains Beyond Mountains just a few months ago, and one of many strong reactions I had was "I wish this could be the next Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads book". It has inspired follow-up reading in epidemiology, anthropology, and biology for me, and it should launch many conversations, as the program promises.
Just finished one of of Farmer's ethnographies, "AIDS and Accusation". Would love to learn more about his remarkable, insightful work.