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Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

EXCELLENT! WONDERFUL!

This book is incredibly inspiring and should be read by anyone who wonders if there is any good left in the world.
This is the true story about Dr. Paul Farmer. Through his strength of character, brilliant medical mind and deep love and admiration for people, he builds...
This book is incredibly inspiring and should be read by anyone who wonders if there is any good left in the world.
This is the true story about Dr. Paul Farmer. Through his strength of character, brilliant medical mind and deep love and admiration for people, he builds a medical community which to this day is operating in Haiti. Run primarily by Haitian doctors, Partners in Health has become a model for native medical care throughout the world.
This book is amazing, a must read for anyone thinking of going into or working in public health. Kidder describes Haiti and the journeys of Paul Farmer with such finesse, beauty and curiosity and the book paints a vivid picture of the trials and tribulations of working in public health in a foreign world. Wonderful!

posted by sweetpeaSP on August 31, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A Good Eye-Opening Read Just Not For Me

Dr. Paul Farmer is obviously a man with a mission and Tracy Kidder displays that well in the book, however, I did not like his storytelling style. He would frequently tell anecdotes out of order but he would then find some bio-ethical point with which to connect them. ...
Dr. Paul Farmer is obviously a man with a mission and Tracy Kidder displays that well in the book, however, I did not like his storytelling style. He would frequently tell anecdotes out of order but he would then find some bio-ethical point with which to connect them. Although I am no one to judge a writer's grammar, the way he listed things annoyed me a bit and he would do it quite often. He would sometimes say things like, 'Paul went to Zanmi Lasante and Peru and Russia and Boston and then back to Harvard to teach, all in one month,' rather than just using comma's. The story in itself, though, was an extremely original topic and made me think about our country. If there were more Americans like Paul Farmer, the world truly would be a better place. Dr. Farmer is so passionate about his work that he makes it seem like its not even work. Tracy Kidder had a great way of describing this trait in Paul. Though I did not enjoy his style of writing, he did know how to describe Paul Farmer. He made the reader feel as if he is right next to Dr. Farmer helping patients as they come along. Even though it was hard o piece together, he described the hectic times when Paul had to be in one place on day and another the next, very intricately. It almost seemed as if Tracy Kidder was following Dr. Farmer every single day of his medical career. Although I did not enjoy some aspects of the book, Mountains Beyond Mountains was overall just north of mediocre for me.

posted by Anonymous on March 5, 2008

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    EXCELLENT! WONDERFUL!

    This book is incredibly inspiring and should be read by anyone who wonders if there is any good left in the world.
    This is the true story about Dr. Paul Farmer. Through his strength of character, brilliant medical mind and deep love and admiration for people, he builds a medical community which to this day is operating in Haiti. Run primarily by Haitian doctors, Partners in Health has become a model for native medical care throughout the world.
    This book is amazing, a must read for anyone thinking of going into or working in public health. Kidder describes Haiti and the journeys of Paul Farmer with such finesse, beauty and curiosity and the book paints a vivid picture of the trials and tribulations of working in public health in a foreign world. Wonderful!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 14, 2009

    The book challenged me to look at my own life and understand what difference I am making with the assets I have but didn't leave me feeling guilty. It also further expanded my world view. I learned so much about world health issues and politics.

    A book that clearly shows what is possible with rugged determination, hard work and and extraordinary sacrifice but also shows the myriad ways in which you may be called to help. Not everyone is called to emulate the life of Dr. Paul Farmer but all are called to live with the same passion and caring for human life as Paul had. We all can look to Paul's life as a testament to what can happen when you look beyond the labels that we like to place on people and become willing to stand up for their right to have their basice needs met. Paul had to be more than just a visionary but also had to be willing to do the hard work of making the vision a reality. The in-depth manner in which this book portrays the risks taken and energy spent year upon year should serve as an inspiration for those that are still in the earlier stages of trying to realize a vision and wonder whether their efforts are in vain.

    The real breauty of this book is the context in which it was written. Viewing Paul from the writer's perspective and how he experienced him was ingenious as it makes Paul much more real. It shows both his incredible talents and his pretty significant flaws. By doing so, Dr. Farmer becomes someone you can relate to and that you feel you can learn from though you may never be called to do what he has done.

    The book also shows that behind every public figure that's out making an impact there's an arsenal of individuals working diligently behind the scene. Individuals such as Jim Kim, Ophelia Dahl, and Tom White are just as critical to the successes experienced at Zamni Lasante and other projects as Paul was. It's great to see these individuals also profiled in the book and given the recognition that they deserved.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    New way of looking at healthcare and the world

    Paul Farmer's thoughts on healthcare and how people aught to relate to each in general are thought-provoking and inspiring. The read gets slow in the middle, but is worth finishing.<BR/><BR/>Tracy Kidder does a masterful job presenting Farmer as a person rather than a god or caricature.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    an inspiring true story

    i was totally moved by dr. paul farmer's deeds. tracy kidder really captures the essence of dr. farmer's soul and spirits.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    Inspirational is an understatement!

    This book takes the word inspiration to a new meaning. You learn not only about the significant accomplishments of Dr. Paul Farmer and the organization Partners in Health, but also about the unbelievable poverty that many cities face every day. You realize how lucky you truly are to even have access to the medical facilities that are in your area, and you begin to appreciate, if you have not already, even the slight knowledge that you have embraced about infectious diseases.
    Some of us believe we are poor and constantly drawing the short stick of every situation, but after reading this book the word "impossible" will completely leave your vocabulary.
    Mountains Beyond Mountains does not only inform you of a great cause and the awful conditions of 3rd world countries, but it will also set your mind into determination mode. Whether you are determined to help the global health community or any other subject matter that you are passionate about, I guarantee you will not stop until you have reached your goal.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2006

    'There's a lot that can be said for sacrifice, remorse, even pity. It's what separates us from roaches'

    Tracy Kidder's brilliant biography of Dr. Paul Farmer is at once disturbing and exhilarating: disturbing, as it points out all the inequalities in living conditions and health care between the rich and the poor and the staggering statistics about disease and the lack of available medical aid in many parts of the world, and exhilarating to read the selfless commitment of one man to change these situations. Not only is the information in this inordinately readable book fascinating but also the superb writing style of Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder is some of the best to be published in recent years. Kidder concerns his book with one Paul Farmer, a poor lad who grew up nearly homeless (unless one calls living on a riverboat a home) in Alabama, a gifted thinker who climbed out of his beginnings to discover the inequities in the big world, went to medical school at Harvard, and then proceeded to commit his life to changing the pitiful poverty and disease-ridded Haiti, establishing not only viable medical centers but also spreading his warm personality into the hinterlands of that little country making day-long walking housecalls for the poor families who as human beings deserve as fine a quality of medicine as those who live near the wealthy comforts of the major city medical centers. How Kidder accompanied and observed Farmer as he sought funding and supplies and training not only in Haiti, where the diseases of tuberculosis and AIDS were decimating the population while the world just silently watched, but also extending his beneficence to Peru and to the prisons of Russia, attack tuberculosis and AIDS with the same ardor is the basis of this book. Farmer's accomplishments created the Partners in Health organization that in turn stimulated the World Health Organization to wake up to the disasters that reign in the third world countries, eventually supplying the much needed medicines, cash, buildings and personnel to begin to make a change in the world health care. Kidder's gift as a writer lies not only in his detailed and well researched biography of a modern saint, but also in his ability to allow us to get to know the very human creature named Paul Farmer. He touches on his personal life, his struggles with his own diseases (he nearly died from hepatitis), and his indomitable spirit in facing a bureaucratic conundrum that prevented the poor of the world from receiving care. It is a touching story, it is a superlative investigation into one man's spirit and selfless commitment, and it is a book that demands our attention on many levels. Tracy Kidder's sharing of Dr. Paul Farmer's life is a poignant reminder that the individual CAN make a difference: it is a matter or devotion to an ideal that can become a reality despite obstructions the world places in the path. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Profound and readable, but be forewarned

    Be forewarned that reading this book will change the way you see the world.

    This book is written is an easily accessible, narrative style. While the subject matter is very important and is a BIG concept, the writing itself is conversational: not too elevated or esoteric, and nothing snobby, and yet it is a profound tale, with many layers, and one that will change your outlook and your understanding of economics, medicine, politics, religion, social justice, family life, and business ethics. I found it easy to read and hard to put down. The story of Dr. Farmer's care for the least of his brothers and sisters caused me to ask myself, "What am I doing to make the world a better place??"

    I loved it and have shared it with many others, including my own physician.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2008

    Mountains Beyond Mountains

    Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, was very interesting and educational. Dr. Farmer is a miracle worker in Haiti. Dr. Farmer stole medicine, smuggled it into Haiti and them illegally administered it to Haitian civilians. Dr. Farmer is devoted to his job and his patients. I think that the Haitian government should be thankful for people like Dr. Farmer. Overall I thought that this book was very informative.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2008

    A Good Eye-Opening Read Just Not For Me

    Dr. Paul Farmer is obviously a man with a mission and Tracy Kidder displays that well in the book, however, I did not like his storytelling style. He would frequently tell anecdotes out of order but he would then find some bio-ethical point with which to connect them. Although I am no one to judge a writer's grammar, the way he listed things annoyed me a bit and he would do it quite often. He would sometimes say things like, 'Paul went to Zanmi Lasante and Peru and Russia and Boston and then back to Harvard to teach, all in one month,' rather than just using comma's. The story in itself, though, was an extremely original topic and made me think about our country. If there were more Americans like Paul Farmer, the world truly would be a better place. Dr. Farmer is so passionate about his work that he makes it seem like its not even work. Tracy Kidder had a great way of describing this trait in Paul. Though I did not enjoy his style of writing, he did know how to describe Paul Farmer. He made the reader feel as if he is right next to Dr. Farmer helping patients as they come along. Even though it was hard o piece together, he described the hectic times when Paul had to be in one place on day and another the next, very intricately. It almost seemed as if Tracy Kidder was following Dr. Farmer every single day of his medical career. Although I did not enjoy some aspects of the book, Mountains Beyond Mountains was overall just north of mediocre for me.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Reveals one of healthcare's saints

    Tracy Kidder outlines Dr. Paul Farmer’s saint-like characteristics and his achievements in aiding the impoverished. The book illustrates that Farmer had done what no one else thought of attempting. Farmer was born with every odd against him. He was raised on a bus, then a boat, and also born into a destitute family. Dr. Paul Farmer triumphed from his underprivileged childhood to achieve greatness with his gift—intelligence. Farmer continued his path to salvation, but along the way he learns of deprivation in parts of the world. Farmer refused to let his country’s ignorance stop him from his life’s commitment of reversing poverty and disease. Dr. Paul Farmer earned an academic scholarship to Harvard’s medical school and pursued his goal to end world poverty. Farmer went on his first of many journeys to Haiti and established medical centers later to be known as Partners in Health. Besides creating modern medical centers, he developed communities enriched with his benevolence and servitude. While Farmer resided in Haiti, he treated thousands of tuberculosis, AIDS, and other diseased patients. Dr. Paul Farmer refused to turn anyone away from help; thus, he created an aura of compassion. Because Farmer created Partners in Health, it stimulated the world’s healthcare and forced countries to realize other country’s problems and start working towards a solution. Farmer’s work did not stop there. He traveled to Russia, Peru, and third-world countries aiding their medical troubles. During Farmer’s time traveling and living in different countries, he did not rest until every person was treated. While in Haiti, Farmer lived in a shack with a bed, sleeping only four hours a day and having no hot water. His life is just purely inspiring. I chose this book because I am going into the medical field, and Farmer’s life is especially amazing to someone with future aspirations in the same field. Tracy Kidder has done a wonderful endeavor in proving that one man can change the world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Education and Inspirational

    Mountains beyond Mountains is an excellent account of one doctor's approach to humbly yet confidently solving the socio-medical issues of poor societies in various locations throughout the world. I found this book difficult to stop reading, as it is so interesting. I learned quite a bit about the factors which contribute to conditions of poor societies, geography, and tuberculosis. Although very educational, I would say the underlying theme of this book is the amazing accomplishment/improvements one person can make when one decides to achieve a goal.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    If you're in a book club, try this one! It could spark heated discussion!

    You cannot read this book and come away with all of your old assumptions about poverty and public service intact. This is not the biography of a saint, however, but the story of one remarkable man and his amazing colleagues living out events that read more like a great novel. Dr. Paul Farmer is a driven doctor and anthropologist, who is universally admired and loved, but is also a flawed brother, son, lover, husband, father, and friend. He is able to define in simple terms the "moral clarity" for his own life of helping the poor, and he assails without pulling any punches, a world tainted by wealth and political corruption. His work to eradicate TB and AIDS among the poorest of the poor around the world illustrates the idea that you never know what you can do unless you just start doing it. If it is something that no one else had ever attempted, he would say, "Is there any data that proves it can't be done?" The takeaway is not that we should aspire to emulate Dr. Farmer's life and work, because his combination of genius and passion is truly unattainable for all but just a few individuals in any society, but that we can find our own passion and opportunities to serve the poor. Anthropologist Margaret Mead's famous words are mentioned in the book, and indeed are the theme: "Never underestimate the ability of a small group of committed individuals to change the world. Indeed, they are the only ones who ever have." The Pulitzer Prize winning author, Tracy Kidder, employs the unique point of view of an "insider," having spent years shadowing Farmer at work at Harvard, in Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia. Their friendship and Kidder's honest, but relentless questioning lends authenticity and incredible detail to the story. Pair that with his meticulous research on poverty, world politics, and medicine, and you feel not only smarter, but truly inspired by the end of the read. I loved this book for two reasons: for renewing my faith that there are courageous individuals like Farmer and his Partners in Health fighting for a healthier life for all of us, and for the belief that I, too, can find a place to make a difference. Oh, yes, and a third reason for all of us who love books: it is a terrific read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    wonderful

    The author did a thorough job of research. The subject is inspiring. Everyone needs to read this book. While we can't all be Paul Farmers we can do something for others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2009

    A Man with a Mission

    Incredible story of a man with rare determination, even obsession, to solve serious medical problems. He does it through his own hard work rather than through research alone. A must read for anyone interested in mission work, medical care for the poor, or successfully connecting to the disenfranchised. Reads as if Tracy Kidder is sitting across the kitchen table from you talking about his friend Paul Farmer, the doctor who had an unconventional upbringing, and continues to carve out an unconventional and highly successful healthcare mission for the poor of Haiti. It is heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and funny, too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    Awesome and Inspirational!

    I loved this book. I didn't know about Dr. Farmer, but what an inspiration he is. Most of us do our work and think there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do. This man does it all and more! To cure TB, Aids/HIV in poor countries and finagle funding is truly a gift.

    I have read other books by Tracy Kidder and have been inspired by them all, including "The Soul of a New Machine" which at first glance would appear to be a pretty dull and boring subject, but Mr. Kidder brought the building of the computer to life, just as he does in this account of Dr. Farmer's life work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2008

    It was interesting, but I wasn't very interested.

    Our freshmen biology class was asked to read this and write a report on it and the bioethical issues involved. I thought that the book was interesting and had some good points. I learned a lot about the situation in Haiti and around the world. I support what Paul Farmer is doing there and think that other countries should step in to help the poor and mistreated out. Although I didn't want to read this book, I thought it was interesting to read about that. I personally wouldn't chose to go out of my way and read this, but if you are interested in bioethics and such then this would be a great book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2006

    Thoughts about Mountains Beyond Mountains

    I feel like Tracy Kidder wrote a wonderful book. It expresses great ideas and directs good positive expressions. It is a story about a man who was raised in a bus and on a boat. He knew the only way for him to make it in life was to use his intelligence. So he worked hard and recieved a acadimic scholarship from Harvard's medical school. Then he went on curing the people of Haiti from their infectious diseases. This was a good book to read if you have never been to another country.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2006

    Mountains Beyond Mountains

    In this book I have learned so many things. It has really mad me realize that there are people around the world really suffering. I can not believe how hard it is for Dr. Farmer to get medicine to those who are dying. I also can not believe how dedicated Paul is to helping others. He goes about curing his patients in a different way them most doctors. He gets to know each and everyone of his patients as individuals and really shows he truly cares foe their well-being. By going those few extra steps Paul has made a difference in the way doctors should be viewed. I loved this book and I have already recommended it to a few people.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    Hope for the Hopeless

    mountain beyond mountains is a great peace of writing that teaches our society a lot of great things. the book shows how one can make a diffrence in the world. Dr. paul farmer did what no one else probaly is capable of doing. Dr. paul farmer had a big and loving heart that cared for others. After all he had what he wanted, a great career, a good paying job and a house. he did not need to go to haiti, Peru or other countries to help the people that needed help. He was like god to the people of haiti because there was no hope and Dr. paul farmer brought hope to the people. we al can make differnece if we chose too. even a little donation can help across the world. if we the people do not help the people than the question is who will. what goes around somes around. Dr. paul farmer did not help the people because he was getting money , he helpmed them because he knew that they needed help. Dr. paul farmer setted a great example of that there is nothing that can be done. if the effort is there than great thing will happen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2006

    Going Beyond

    This book has changed my life. I used to want to be a doctor, but after reading this I feel I would have to be just like Dr. Farmer. Dr. Farmer goes beyond his line of duty to help cure the world of infectious diseases. He never really spends time with his family or friends besides the ones he has made in Haiti. I would freak out if I had to leave my family for weeks to travel around looking and trying to obtain the almost impossible. I am happy there are people in our world today that can do that kind of job. I learned several new things from reading this book. I can not wait to read another book by Tracy Kidder.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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