Profound and powerful, Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba and Russia, as the charismatic but flawed genius Dr Paul Farmer challenges widely-held preconceptions about poverty and healthcare.
As a medical student, Farmer found his life's calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine - so readily available in the developed world - to those who need them most. Beginning in Haiti, he tackles the conditions that contribute to so many unnecessary deaths with his trademark combination of world-class expertise, unlimited compassion, and the unstinting dedication of friends and colleagues. Tracy Kidder's magnificent and moving account shows how, from achieving this modest dream, one person can make a difference in solving global problems through a clear-eyed understanding of the interaction of politics, wealth, social systems and medicine.
In this excellent work, Pulitzer Prize winner Kidder (The Soul of a New Machine) immerses himself in and beautifully explores the rich drama that exists in the life of Dr. Paul Farmer. A Massachusetts native who has been working in Haiti since 1982, Farmer founded Zanmi Lasante (Creole for Partners in Health), a nongovernmental organization that is the only health-care provider for hundreds of thousands of peasant farmers in the Plateau Central. He did this while juggling work in Haiti and study at the Harvard Medical School. (Farmer received his M.D. and a Ph.D. in anthropology simultaneously in 1990.) During his work in Haiti, Farmer pioneered a community-based treatment method for patients with tuberculosis that, Kidder explains, has had better clinical outcomes than those in U.S. inner cities. For this work, Farmer was recognized in 1993 with a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," all of which he donated to Zanmi Lasante. Using interviews with family members and various friends and associates, Kidder provides a sympathetic account of Farmer's early life, from his idiosyncratic family to his early days in Haiti. Kidder also recounts his time with Farmer as he travels to Moscow; Lima, Peru; Boston; and other cities where Farmer relentlessly seeks funding and educates people about the hard conditions in Haiti. Throughout, Kidder captures the almost saintly effect Farmer has on those whom he treats.