Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review: Mountains Beyond Mountains

From the back of Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder:
In medical school, Paul Farmer 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... 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"
This was an incredible story and a wonderful book. I actually bought it several years ago - I had read House (link goes to my review) and enjoyed it, so I was interested in reading something else by Kidder. For whatever reason, though, I put it on my shelf and forgot about it. Then the earthquake hit Haiti and I spent some time thinking about that. I heard more about Partners in Health, the nonprofit Dr. Farmer founded, and their response to the earthquake on the radio. So I remembered I owned this book and pulled it down to read - and ended up gobbling it up in one long day.

Kidder is a wonderful writer. He's a journalist - making sure that every story gets covered from multiple angles, multiple viewpoints - but he's more than that. I got the sense that he was very emotionally connected with Dr. Farmer, the rest of the Partners in Health team, and the poor people helping and helped by PIH. That emotional connection came through very strongly and made me, the reader, feel connected to the people in the book. And I really enjoyed reading the history and geopolitics covered in Mountains Beyond Mountains.

I am very curious about what has happened since the events covered by Mountains Beyond Mountains, especially since the earthquake. In some ways, this felt like Part 1 of a story that continues. I would love it if Kidder continued writing about Dr. Farmer and Partners in Health.

Whatever the case for the future, this is a powerful, well-written, and interesting book. I highly recommend it for all readers, especially anyone wanting to learn more about Haiti.

Buy Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World on Amazon.

Visit author Tracy Kidder online.


  1. Nice review! I like to read books like this occasionaly that make me think, stretch and grow outside my comfort zone. :)

  2. I've been reading a lot of books about Haiti since the earthquake and this one is on my list but I haven't read it yet. It's sounds excellent.


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