An inspiring story of a group of young doctors who endured a trial by fire.

LIFE ON THE LINE

YOUNG DOCTORS COME OF AGE IN A PANDEMIC

A moving account of six medical students who graduated early in order to join the battle against Covid-19.

New York Times journalist Goldberg sets her scene close to home at Bellevue Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center, both of which were already understaffed and overwhelmed in April 2020. Medical schools teach essentials during the first three years; the fourth is generally elective, so leaving early is an option, and all New York City medical schools asked for volunteers during the pandemic. Not everyone stepped up, but the author offers appreciative profiles of those who did. Readers who hear that Covid-19 kills only a small percentage of its victims, comparable to the flu, will be shocked at the horrific suffering that her young doctors witnessed. Entering through the respiratory tract, the virus attacks the lungs, often leading to pneumonia and respiratory failure so severe that patients require a ventilator. However, early on, half of patients placed on a ventilator died. “Another challenge for the new doctors,” writes Goldberg, “was the pervasive fear of infection. For the most part, neither senior physicians nor new graduates had been trained to worry for their lives while caring for patients.” All struggled to establish trust while spending minimal time near patients and wearing bulky protective equipment that covered their faces. Although Goldberg’s subjects seem to be the crème de la crème of the medical profession, she digresses liberally into the establishment’s shortcomings. “American medical schools are still predominantly white and wealthy,” she writes. “This is partly because doctors are predominantly white and wealthy, and doctors tend to beget doctors.” White doctors spend more time with White than non-White patients, but Covid-19 kills far more poor and non-White victims, which is sadly true for most diseases. Goldberg concludes that the medical establishment is making a genuine effort to broaden medical culture and attract minorities, and her heroes, an admirably diverse group, are contributing mightily.

An inspiring story of a group of young doctors who endured a trial by fire.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307338-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

more