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

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

by Tracy Kidder
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Overview

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

Tracy Kidder is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, Among Schoolchildren, and Home Town. He has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” This powerful and inspiring new book shows how one person can make a difference, as Kidder tells the true story of a gifted man who is in love with the world and has set out to do all he can to cure it.

At the center of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. This magnificent book shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable, and it also shows how a meaningful life can be created, as Farmer—brilliant, charismatic, charming, both a leader in international health and a doctor who finds time to make house calls in Boston and the mountains of Haiti—blasts through convention to get results.

Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that "the only real nation is humanity" - a philosophy that is embodied in the small public charity he founded, Partners In Health. He enlists the help of the Gates Foundation, George Soros, the U.N.’s World Health Organization, and others in his quest to cure the world. At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope, and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”: as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.

Mountains Beyond Mountains unfolds with the force of a gathering revelation,” says Annie Dillard, and Jonathan Harr says, “[Farmer] wants to change the world. Certainly this luminous and powerful book will change the way you see it.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588363343
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/09/2003
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 46,607
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Tracy Kidder has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Award, among other literary prizes. The author of The Soul of a New Machine, House, Among Schoolchildren, Old Friends, and Home Town, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and Maine.

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Mountains Beyond Mountains 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 171 reviews.
sweetpeaSP More than 1 year ago
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!
Shannon1TC More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Raj_Jaye More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Grock16 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
JMcClure More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Robin-Hood More than 1 year ago
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.
AuntieAlice More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mountains Beyonds Mountains is a good book because it has a lot of good points and meanings. It shows people that one person can make a difference in a lot of lives by just wanting too. This book is about Dr. Farmer's life and he provided healthcare to many poor people who couldn't afford it. I would recommend this book to people wanting to become doctors or anyone dealing with anthropology. Also, if people want to read about lifestyles in third world countries this would be a good book. However, I was not very interested throughout the book because it was hard to get interested in. The writing style was slow and basically just told a life story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like this book mountains beyond mountains, it tells about the courage of a man trying to make a difference in places that seem to be a lost cause. A man that started an orginization that helped people that needed it the most. Dr. Farmer goes beyond the call of duty to make sure that his patients get what they need.He is an extrordinary person that goes further than other people would.Not only does he help his patients but humanity as well. I have never seen such determination to acheive a goal that seems impossible to reach. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is simply an amazing book. Tracy Kidder gives us a very detailed look into Dr. Paul Farmer's life and work. Kidder's descriptions of Farmer building a hospital and treating patients in Haiti for free is awe inspiring and will make you want to do something too. Just read this amazing novel, you won't regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. It goes to show that it only takes one person to make a difference. Dr. Paul Farmer made his life mission to take his knowledge and connections in the medical field and create a health care system that NEVER would have been in place other wise. After being to Africa myself, I know some of the difficulties and road blocks that he would have had to encounter along the way, but he never gave up, instead it gave him fuel to fight harder. I would encourage anyone to read this that has the desire to do something 'big' but is lacking the confidence to do so.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Farmer's quest to cure the world, at personal cost and sacrifice, is simply awesome. His ability to lead others and influence world leaders, coupled with his compassionate care of individuals is amazing. This book is an eye-opener to world health problems. TB, AIDS, and other diseases are so prevalent in underprivileged countries. The problems are so enormouse, that despair could set in, but for the efforts and energy of a Dr. Farmer. His life, his work, his leadership encourages all of us who care about the world. One person can make a difference!
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Beyond mountains there are mountains¿ is apparently a Haitian proverb. Tracy Kidder¿s book covers his travels observing Doctor Paul Farmer, who grew up poor on a boat and bus, only to attend Harvard and also develop a public health clinic in Haiti. Farmer¿s career becomes a lens for Kidder to view the world¿s medical crises among the poor with a major emphasis on TB. Tracy Kidder brings the magnitude of the crises among the worlds poor into brilliant focus by highlighting Farmers life and dedication and, or obsession to cure the world's poor. Farmer works by treating patient by patient and yet his methods and expertise come to impact programs in Peru, the Siberian prisons of modern Russia, Cuba and his beloved Haiti. The book is able to give an excellent medical and political overview of the gap between the health and wealth of elite and the barren poor. Because Farmer is so intense with each individual patient it allows Kidder to illustrate the crises and the world¿s reaction dramatically, through many individual patient's. In reading I found I was amazed, angry, hopeful and depressed. It all reminded me of the ant pushing the large pebble up hill only to have it roll back down and over him. At the end of the book Farmer seems to sum up this overwhelming challenge by saying his is life spent in service to the ¿long defeat¿. Yet, along the way there are many small victories and some amazing people who join in the effort. People such as Tom White who owns a heavy construction firm in Boston who has given almost his whole fortune away to support Farmer¿s work. This book is mandatory reading for anyone in politics, public service, or feels they are entitled to have one more tax cut.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was moved and amazed by the life of Dr. Farmer in this book. His compassion, brilliance, commitment and humanity come shining through Tracy Kidder's lucid writing. This biography of a life still in progress is organized more thematically than strictly chronologically (thank heavens!), and in the course of learning of Farmer's dedication to the poorest of the poor and sickest of the sick in the third world (particularly Haiti), the reader also learns so much about the multi-resistant strains of TB, pharmaceutical funding, international philanthopy, and geopolitics. This book places the inaninity of modern American life in stark perspective, and in so doing, it is life-changing. At the same time I was reading this book, I was also reading The Purpose Driven Life with an adult church school class; Dr. Farmer's life is a compelling testimony of what a purpose-driven life really looks like!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brilliant. This book inspired my humanities thesis, and the ideas in this book will be the center of my research for my year long independent study next year.