book review

How We Treat Our Fellow Americans

The blossoming truth of “No Apparent Distress” is that a segment of American society has been casually cast aside, left to scavenge on the meager scraps of volunteer health services, and failing that, left to die. Some politicians might call this “choice.” A more medically accurate term would be abandonment. More

Medical Memoirs

Given the epidemic of doctor-writers out there, one could be forgiven for assuming that a book titled “Internal Medicine: A Doctor’s Stories,” written by a practicing physician, would be a work of nonfiction (and indeed, it is being marketed as such). But in the introduction, Holt writes that he is “recreating experience as parable,” More

Lancet review of “What Doctors Feel”

What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine is as close to a page-turner as a clinician’s story is likely to become. What Doctors Feel deserves to be well received and widely read. More

Mansion of Happiness

What do Milton Bradley’s Game of Life, breast pumps, Stuart Little, Karen Ann Quinlan and eugenics have in common? In Jill Lepore’s engaging new book, “The Mansion of Happiness,” they are the touchstones along the existential footpath of life. “A History of Life and Death” – as the subtitle has it – could easily be a plodding, exhaustive disquisition; Lepore is a professor of history, after all. But her alter ego is as a New Yorker staff writer, and so she develops each chapter with an essayistic contour, diving in at an unexpected angle and then weaving a narrative that may perambulate historically, geographically and contextually. Yet we always come out at the other end with a thoughtful sense of how our society has grappled with these foundational concepts. More

JAMA review of the Bellevue Literary Review

The Bellevue Literary Review was the first literary journal of its kind and holds a respected place among medical humanities scholars and those who write of medicine and illness, healing, and the human body. Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the United States, may represent a natural starting point for reflection on these issues, and over the years the editors have produced a journal of uncommon literary quality. More

Pharma in the Jungle

How to make pharmaceutical R&D worthy of James Bond-like drama. It’s not easy, but Anne Patchett gamely tries. An American drug company based in the dull stretches of Minnesota is racing to develop the holy grail of fertility drugs—a simple pill to allow women to get pregnant at any age. The stockholders are rubbing their palms rapaciously at the mere thought. More

A “Difficult” Patient’s Journey

Chloë Atkins is the type of patient that every doctor dreads—presenting with a plethora of symptoms that don’t offer any obvious medical explanation. There are multitudes of such patients in a general practitioner’s roster and most, thankfully, will not turn out to have a serious illness. But there are a few who do, and as Atkins’ book points out, this can be a harrowing experience. More

Memoir of Lost Love

Kay Redfield Jamison writes movingly of her love for her husband, and chronicles the illnesses that he faced in clear-eyed, heartfelt prose. Danielle Ofri reviews her book for The Lancet. More

Contagious–Book Review

In search of gripping plots and compelling characters, writers have always pilfered from reality. Plagues and epidemics—with their threats of mass destruction, overtones of divine retribution, nefarious villains and innocent victims—have particularly enthralled novelists. More

Resistance–Review of Abba Kovner’s poetry

Abba Kovner–leader of the Vilna ghetto uprising–was also a remarkable poet. His book of poems entitled “Sloan Kettering” is well worth the read for its lessons in history, mortality, medicine, and beauty. More

Medicine: An Uncertain Art

As surely as the first bill for malpractice insurance lands on the desk, so too does the awkward lesson of clinical medicine — that the scientific certainty dished out by the medical establishment represents only a small portion of what clinical practice actually is. More

New Pages review of the Bellevue Literary Review

The Bellevue Literary Review describes itself as “A journal of humanity and human experience.” Reading the Spring 2008 volume, I continually concluded that BLR could not be described more appropriately. More

Solving the Health Care Crisis

Status quo is a powerful determinant of both belief and behavior. This is why incumbents win elections, why we always choose the same flavor of yogurt, why we prescribe the same antihypertensive medications, and why we have our health care system in America. More

Talking With Doctors

Imagine falling mysteriously ill in a foreign country, in which the language, culture, and customs have no bearing on your own. Imagine trying to find medical help and evaluating your potential healers without understanding the territory, while the shadow of imminent death lingers over your shoulder. This is roughly the experience that David Newman underwent when he discovered that he had a rare tumor that was hovering precariously near his brain stem. The foreign capital was a certain well-known medical city on the Hudson River. More

New York Times review of “Incidental Findings”

Ofri’s thoughtful and honest second book…is equal parts “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” and “Kitchen Confidential.” The title is inspired by her realization, during her own amniocentesis, that conditions that seem minor to doctors are monumental when they happen to you. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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