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

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

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by Jonathan Weiner
     
 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060010089
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/14/2005
Series:
P.S. Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
623,494
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.87(d)

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