Koop: The Memoirs of America's Family Doctor

Koop: The Memoirs of America's Family Doctor

by C. Everett Koop

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Former surgeon general Koop disingenuously portrays himself as a pawn who was ``caught in the middle'' of the abortion controversy, claiming that he didn't realize he was enlisted to push the Reagan administration's anti-abortion agenda until after he had accepted the job. He defends his stance against ``slaughter of the unborn'' and argues that pro-choicers should place more emphasis on adoption. As for AIDS, he writes frankly of the Reagan administration's antipathy toward homosexuals, but insists that the government did not ``drag its feet'' on research. He also discusses his vigorous anti-smoking campaign and defends his involvement in the 1982 Baby Doe case concerning an Indiana couple's refusal of medical treatment for their newborn who had Down's syndrome. This straightforward biography is most affecting when Koop recreates his 1920s Brooklyn boyhood, describes life as a pediatric surgeon or tells how, posing as a medical student at 14, he slipped into a Manhattan hospital and watched live surgery to his heart's content. Photos. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Koop is no shrinking violet. His ego permeates his memoir as he recounts his childhood in Brooklyn, his education at Dartmouth and Cornell, and his eminent surgical career at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Koop presents himself as a decent, caring, Christian man--one we might all wish to have as a family doctor. What distinguishes his book from other physician biographies is the second part, which focuses on Koop's appointment as Surgeon General. His reasoned, professional pronouncements on thorny emotional and political national health issues--smoking and tobacco addiction, AIDS, the Baby Doe case and the rights of handicapped children, and abortion and sex education--come from one who may well have earned the right to be called ``the health conscience of America.'' This is for popular biography and medical collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/91.-- James Swanton, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine, New York
Kirkus Reviews
"Keep your head down and your mouth shut" was advice given to the would-be Surgeon General early in his Washington days; fortunately, the high-profile and controversial Koop chose otherwise, both in his career and in these lively memoirs. The "health conscience of America" is how Koop says he'd like to be remembered—and he is that and much more: an innovative pediatric surgeon whose skills have altered thousands of lives, a man of scientific integrity whose tenure as Surgeon General alternately delighted and confounded both the right and the left, a Bible-reading evangelical Christian with a mission, and a bloody but unbowed veteran of eight years of Washington bureaucracy. His account of his early years, though pleasant enough, is unremarkable, but his writing moves into high gear when he talks about his years as a pediatric surgeon and the painful and prolonged process of becoming confirmed as Surgeon General. Koop recounts his battles with the powerful tobacco industry; his efforts to prod the Reagan Administration to take action in the war on AIDS and his subsequent attacks from the religious right on this same issue; his stand on the Baby Doe case and the rights of handicapped children; and, as expected, his opposition to abortion. Koop concludes with brief essays on what he considers major health issues of the day, such as health insurance, preventive health care, problems of aging, nutrition and food safety, drugs and alcohol, and domestic violence: Clearly much remains on his agenda. Good stories and honest opinions from an American original, who, though now stripped of his colorful vice admiral's uniform, is not about to fade away. (Sixteen pages of b&wphotographs—not seen.)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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