A Desperate Passion

Overview

"She showed me what one set-on-fire human being can do to shift the consciousness of the world." —Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
"Dr. Helen Caldicott," the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle declares, "is back on the scene." A Desperate Passion is Caldicott's engaging, inspiring memoir, chronicling her life both on and off the scene. Raised in Australia and trained as a physician, she first found her voice protesting French nuclear tests in the Pacific. Years later she rose to international ...

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Overview

"She showed me what one set-on-fire human being can do to shift the consciousness of the world." —Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
"Dr. Helen Caldicott," the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle declares, "is back on the scene." A Desperate Passion is Caldicott's engaging, inspiring memoir, chronicling her life both on and off the scene. Raised in Australia and trained as a physician, she first found her voice protesting French nuclear tests in the Pacific. Years later she rose to international prominence, founding Physicians for Social Responsibility, "which did perhaps more than any other group to thrust the nuclear issue under the public eye" (New York Times).
"Driven by intense passions, she seems to have adopted the world's population as her children. And all of us are probably better off as a result" (East Bay Express Books)—but Caldicott, wife and mother of three, found that her success did not come without cost. This is a personal story too, a candid, revealing self-portrait of a woman who has not relinquished her remarkable efforts to save the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Bloomsbury Review
“Our contaminated air and our fractured earth demand a doctor's attention in the nuclear age, and the doctor on this case is a master.”
Edward M. Kennedy
“Helen Caldicott was the First Lady of the Nuclear Freeze Movement in the 1980s. This story, by an extraordinary woman, is a compelling memoir of those extraordinary times.”
Kirkus Reviews
A maverick's life, told with grace and good humor.

Caldicott (Missile Envy, 1984), famed as an antinuclear activist and as a founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility but less well known as an early researcher of cystic fibrosis, has much to tell. Born Helen Broinowski ("Nobody with Polish and Irish ancestry—as I have—has any right to expect a quiet, easy life") into a family of Australian social progressives, she was one of the first female medical doctors to practice in her native country. She was also, early on, an outspoken critic and pacifist: "I have taken on the establishment in society," she writes. "I tend to have independent views which are often not popular initially, and I am impelled to speak the truth with little regard for the prevailing norms of society." That much is evident in her narrative of her early days as an activist, when she gave talks to Australian ladies' clubs and delivered the feminist gospel according to Germaine Greer—along with frank reminders that venereal disease is a possible outcome of sexual intimacy. Such remarks shocked her staid listeners. In later years, she has crusaded more widely for women's causes, for socialized medicine, for gun control ("the United States . . . is full of strange people carrying guns"), and, of course, for disarmament and the abolition of nuclear testing. One of the highlights of her book is an aside on how she bluffed Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev, playing each off against the other, into endorsing her call for arms talks. Closely concerned with the big issues of our time, Caldicott does not often share the quotidian details of her own life, but when she does, it is with emotional power, as when she writes affectingly of the dissolution of her long marriage, and of her love for the natural world.

A treat for Caldicott's many admirers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393316803
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Pages: 380
  • Sales rank: 980,697
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Caldicott is an internationally recognized antinuclear activist, cofounder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and founder of the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament and the International Physicians to Save the Environment. She lives in Australia.

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