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  • Writer's pictureTerry Pace

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

Updated: May 23, 2020

By Tracy Kidder


The book Mountains Beyond Mountains was published in 2003, by the American writer, Tracy Kidder (1945). This is one of my most recommended books ever and I only read it this past year, after my dear Friend Dr. Rockey Robbins gave me a copy. As someone in the healing, healthcare professions, this is a must read book. If I get back to teaching ever again, I'll find a way to slip this book into any course, somehow. It is that good! The book tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer a physician from Boston and Harvard who dedicates his life to trying to eradicate TB and HIV in Haiti and other remote and poor countries in the world. It is first a book about the capacity for human love and self-sacrifice for the good of others. It is next a lesson in what medicine and healthcare should be; a human to human, personally caring relationship among providers and patients that prizes the patients autonomy, culture, needs and perspectives. It also shows how the best medicine is based on the best science and on how improvements in healthcare may challenge our assumptions but with science and love combined we are able to harness the lessons and apply them in ways that actually do more good than harm and that promotes long-term health where possible. Dr. Farmer's work further highlights how the health of one is connected to the health of everyone. Of course this is true with infections diseases such as TB, HIV or Covid-19, but it is also true of other illnesses where a change or need in one member of a family or group will impact the lifestyle, emotional well-being and practical or financial health of others. Thus while healthcare is always personal, it is also always collective in its implications. The story telling is riveting and while few of us may ever reach the level of sacrifice and impact of Dr. Farmer, we can do better by incorporating his ingredients into our lives concerning how we understand and care for others. I looked, as of today you can find used copies on-line for under $3.00. Get it. Read it. Pass it on.

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