His Brother's Keeper: A Story from the Edge of Medicine (P.S. Series)

( 4 )

Overview

Stephen Heywood was twenty-nine years old when he learned that he was dying of ALS -- Lou Gehrig's disease. Almost overnight his older brother, Jamie, turned himself into a genetic engineer in a quixotic race to cure the incurable. His Brother's Keeper is a powerful account of their story, as they travel together to the edge of medicine.

The book brings home for all of us the hopes and fears of the new biology. In this dramatic and suspenseful narrative, Jonathan Weiner gives us...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$13.50
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$14.99 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (47) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $3.32   
  • Used (37) from $1.99   
His Brother's Keeper

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price

Overview

Stephen Heywood was twenty-nine years old when he learned that he was dying of ALS -- Lou Gehrig's disease. Almost overnight his older brother, Jamie, turned himself into a genetic engineer in a quixotic race to cure the incurable. His Brother's Keeper is a powerful account of their story, as they travel together to the edge of medicine.

The book brings home for all of us the hopes and fears of the new biology. In this dramatic and suspenseful narrative, Jonathan Weiner gives us a remarkable portrait of science and medicine today. We learn about gene therapy, stem cells, brain vaccines, and other novel treatments for such nerve-death diseases as ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's -- diseases that afflict millions, and touch the lives of many more.

"The Heywoods' story taught me many things about the nature of healing in the new millennium," Weiner writes. "They also taught me about what has not changed since the time of the ancients and may never change as long as there are human beings -- about what Lucretius calls 'the ever-living wound of love.'"

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Susan Okie
In His Brother's Keeper, the biology of nerve cells and the dawning history of gene therapy play supporting roles in a plot as finely crafted as that of the best novels. Weiner uses the Heywoods' story to illuminate the unexpected ways in which a serious illness reveals character and shifts the balance within a family.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
In a phenomenal job of reporting, Weiner practically becomes a sixth member of the Heywood family. He stays at the home of the parents, goes to church with them, visits scientists with them. When Stephen receives his ''death sentence'' diagnosis from a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Weiner is able to recreate, from a tape of the conversation, every pained ''um'' and ''uh'' of the doctor's remarks; never has such a grim discussion seemed more awkwardly realistic on the page. In conveying the dysfunctional neural signaling that characterizes diseases like A.L.S., Weiner creates an extended metaphor, drawn from the Kafka short story ''An Imperial Message,'' that is as fine as any I have read. — Stephen S. Hall
Publishers Weekly
At the heart of this report from the front lines of gene therapy and other regenerative medicine techniques lies a simple, heartbreaking question: "What would you do to save your brother''s life?" When Stephen Heywood, a 29-year-old carpenter, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), his older brother, Jaime, launched his own research project to search for a cure. It was the late 1990s, shortly after scientists had cloned a living creature for the first time. So when Jamie told a friend about research demonstrating that the DNA of every ALS victim was missing a protein, his response ("Why don't you just put the damn protein back?") seemed wildly optimistic but not entirely impossible-if they could figure out how to do it in time. Weiner (The Beak of the Finch) keeps the actual science to a minimum. The story's power derives from attention to small, human details, like Stephen's first symptoms of losing strength in his fingers. The emotional register is also strong; Weiner spends so much time with the Heywoods that they begin to refer to him as one of the family, and his closeness allows him to effectively contrast their handling of Stephen's condition to his own family's reaction to his mother's bout with a similar nerve-death disease. Weiner can't give readers a happy ending for Stephen, but he can-and does-offer a powerful account of equal parts ambition and hope. (Mar.) Forecast: Weiner's The Beak of the Finch won the Pulitzer and his Time, Love, Memory won the NBCC Award. Also, Weiner has a five-city tour plus additional lecture tie-ins, as well as other national media planned. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The multi-award-winning author examines the new biology by focusing on two brothers, one suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease and the other who quit his job to found an organization seeking a cure. The publication date was pushed up from June to March at press time. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060010089
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/14/2005
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,054,097
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Weiner is one of the most distinguished popular-science writers in the country: his books have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Scientific American, Smithsonian, and many other newspapers and magazines, and he is a former editor at The Sciences. His books include The Beak of the Finch; Time, Love, Memory; and His Brother's Keeper. He lives in New York, where he teaches science writing at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi
Part 1 The Key in the Door 1
Part 2 The Plan 73
Part 3 The Construct 147
Part 4 The Sign 211
Part 5 The Sudden Fall 291
Acknowledgments 355
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

His Brother's Keeper
A Story from the Edge of Medicine

Chapter One

Portents

When they were boys, Jamie and Stephen Heywood loved to arm wrestle. They made it a ritual: first the right arm, then the left, then, if there was time, a wrestling match on the rug. Their rules of engagement were so complicated and so long unspoken that no one else ever learned the game. Even Jamie's best friend Duncan Moss did not know how to play. Duncan would take one step across the line on the rug. Then he would see the look on Jamie's face.

What? What did I do?

He did not know the rules.

The Heywoods lived in an old house on Mill Street in Newtonville, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. All three of the Heywood boys, Jamie, then Stephen, and then the youngest, Ben, were athletic dreamers, inventors of many rituals and adventures. The house on Mill Street is a block from a patch of woods and a pond. The brothers played football there in a corner field that belonged to a neighbor they called Aunt Betsy. Late at night when it rained hard, Jamie and Stephen snuck out with boogie boards. They hopped a fence to the creek, which got roaring in a good storm. Through the dark and the rain they rode the rapids into Bolough's Pond.

Their parents, Peggy and John Heywood, are well known in Newtonville. They love traditions, too. Each of them has served terms as Senior Warden of Grace Church, in Newton Corners. When their boys were young, they went back every summer to the dairy farm in South Dakota where Peggy had grown up. She had won a full scholarship to Radcliffe, in Cambridge, which is where she met John. Peggy worked as a therapist; she kept her practice small and devoted herself to the family.

Every seven years, they spent a year in England, where John was born and raised. John Heywood is a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an international authority on internal combustion engines. He is the son of a British coal engineer who turned to solar power early on, back when only the cranks were interested in what he had to say -- back when a maverick who worried about coal smoke, soot, and acid, and praised the power of the sun, was like a bolt from the future. John Heywood consults about energy efficiency for Ford in Detroit, Ferrari in Italy, Toyota in Japan. When he is at home, he runs MIT's Sloan Automotive Laboratory, to which he commutes from Mill Street on a bicycle.

Each summer in July or August, Peggy's side of the family gathered from across the country for a reunion at the beach town of Duck, near Kitty Hawk, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A few of the children on the beach were always honorary Heywoods, as Aunt Betsy was an honorary aunt. John and Peggy, Jamie, Stephen, and Ben each brought friends. The boys swam, sailed, surfed, and raced on the cold shining track the waves made for them. Every summer on one of their last days at Duck they played a game of basketball with their cousins and with strangers they roped in from up and down the beach, wickedly violent games that routinely sent a few Heywoods to the hospital.

As Jamie and Stephen got older, they kept arm wrestling, ritually. In their late teens and early twenties, when the two and a half years between them no longer mattered, they were perfectly matched. But Jamie became a mechanical engineer, like their father and his father in England. Jamie was intelligent and driven, and spent his days and nights working at a desk. Stephen became a carpenter, a hands-on man like their mother's father and brother in South Dakota. Stephen was intelligent, too, but he mistrusted desks and ambitions. He spent a few years swinging a hammer on a framing crew, and his right arm became unbeatable.

Late in July of 1997, when Jamie was thirty and Stephen was twenty-eight, they arm wrestled in the beach house their parents had rented that summer at Duck. Jamie was five feet, eleven and three-quarter inches tall, and he weighed one hundred and sixty-five pounds; Stephen was six-foot-three, two-twenty. Jamie was keeping himself in shape, but Stephen was building his first house that year, and his right bicep and tricep were very well-defined. In arm wrestling, there is always a moment when the winner knows he has won and the loser knows he has lost. The brothers were both surprised when they realized that for the first time in five years, Jamie would force Stephen's right arm down to the table.

Jamie whooped. I beat my carpenter brother. I'm the man! I'm the man!

Stephen won the next bout, which they fought, as always, lefthanded. That shut up Jamie.

Neither of them suspected that anything was wrong.

That year a team of scientists and veterinarians in Scotland announced the birth of a strange lamb, the identical twin of its mother. The news hung above the year like a comet. All around the world, the arrival of the lamb was received as a portent, like an earthquake, a fire, an eruption, a millennial battle won or lost. Something was out of whack in the order of the world and would have to be put right, if it could ever be put right -- or else turned to advantage, transformed into acts of healing as novel as the conception of that cloned lamb.

That was also the year the world's front pages carried the story of the death of Jeanne Louise Calment, from Arles, France. She helped inspire people to hope that in the new millennium, human beings might live as long as Methuselah. Jeanne Louise Calment was 122 years old. She remembered Vincent van Gogh.

Those who loved science and those who mistrusted it felt an almost supernatural touch of hope or dread that year, as if all our human rituals were about to change forever ...

His Brother's Keeper
A Story from the Edge of Medicine
. Copyright © by Jonathan Weiner. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Introduction

His Brother's Keeper is the story of a young entrepreneur who gambles on the risky science of gene therapy to try to save his brother's life. Stephen Heywood was twenty-nine years old when he learned that he was dying of ALS -- Lou Gehrig's disease. Almost overnight his older brother, Jamie, turned himself into a genetic engineer in a quixotic race to cure the incurable. His Brother's Keeper is a powerful account of their story, as they travel together to the edge of medicine.

The book brings home for all of us the hopes and fears of the new biology. In this dramatic and suspenseful narrative, Jonathan Weiner gives us a remarkable portrait of science and medicine today. We learn about gene therapy, stem cells, brain vaccines, and other novel treatments for such nerve-death diseases as ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's -- diseases that afflict millions, and touch the lives of many more.

It turns out that the author has a personal stake in the story as well. When he met the Heywood brothers, his own mother was dying of a rare nerve-death disease. The Heywoods' gene therapist offered to try to save her, too.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is Stephen's role in his own story?

  2. Is Jamie a sympathetic character? Is there any moment in the book when your opinion of him changes?

  3. On p. 259, Stephen tells Jonathan Weiner that he is "hooked." Do you think that the Author's degree of investiture in the Heywood story is affected by his mother's neurological disorder? How so and to what extent?

  4. What are the parallels between Stephen's illness and that of Ponnie's?

  5. Was Jamie's race worthwhile in the end? Do you feel that he should have used his time differently? Do you agree with Stephen's choices?

  6. Do you think that Jonathan Weiner agrees with the experimental treatments being developed by Jamie and his team?

  7. Is Jamie really struggling to be "his brother's keeper" or is his quest a means of avoiding the truth of Stephen's ALS?

  8. Do you think that governmental agencies such as the FDA and the RAC should make greater exception in cases like Stephen's? Should regulatory criteria be the same in developing treatments for all diseases or do orphan diseases (like ALS and Lewy Body Dimentia) require a more lenient approach?

  9. His Brother's Keeper takes place during the last few years of the twentieth century. Has there been a change in public opinion regarding gene therapy since then? How do you feel about the fact that the Heywoods are a church going family, but also support gene therapy?

  10. Jamie finds himself torn between altruism and entrepreneurship. Would there have been a benefit to selling his idea to "big pharma"? Do you agree that his struggle to find treatment for Stephen would have been regarded differently if he had chosen to profit from the research?

About the Author

Jonathan Weiner's books have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and many other honors. While working on His Brother's Keeper, he was writer-in-residence at Rockefeller University. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their two sons.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2004

    my brother's keeper

    I loved the book, even though at times I got lost because of the termology in it.I wish it had more to offer as to where they are today in the search for als cure. and is there going to be a part two??

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)