Mountains Beyond Mountains

Publication date August 25, 2009
by Tracy Kidder
Random House
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Pulitzer-prize winning author Tracy Kidder's best-selling book tells the story of the founding and achievements of Partners In Healthmainly through the eyes and experience of Paul Farmer and fellow co-founders Ophelia Dahl, Thomas J. White and Jim Yong Kim.

In a review for the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Bernard Hirschel wrote:

"For more than 20 years, Farmer has spent many months every year there [in central Haiti], often taking care of patients himself and continually improving the treatments offered by the clinic. These now include antiretroviral drugs... Through his patients in Cange, Farmer became interested in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. From Haiti, he exported treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis to Peru and then to Siberia, achieving cure rates comparable to those in the United States. Through the Institute for Health and Social Justice (the research and education division of Partners in Health) and his associate Jim Yong Kim, he started a movement to lower prices for the second-line drugs necessary to treat resistant tuberculosis and successfully lobbied the World Health Organization for changes in treatment recommendations for tuberculosis. Readers may have heard some of this story before (Farmer has received a MacArthur award and the American Medical Association's Dr. Nathan Davis Award) and may have wondered, as I did, where he came from and how one man could accomplish so much. Kidder provides some explanations: he works nonstop, hardly sleeps, sees his wife and child for a day or so every few months, inspires an uncommon degree of devotion and enthusiasm among collaborators and potential donors, and tolerates planes and airports for days on end. In addition, the Boston medical establishment has bent rules and regulations to accommodate his needs. Convincing? Maybe. There remains something miraculous about Paul Farmer. Should one go out and buy Mountains beyond Mountains? By all means. Not only it is it an enjoyable book, but it is also very likely that a part of the $25.95 spent in purchasing it will find its way back to Haiti. That is more than can be said about many books."