What the Eyes Don't See
A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • The dramatic story of the Flint water crisis, by a relentless physician who stood up to power.
“Stirring . . . [a] blueprint for all those who believe . . . that ‘the world . . . should be full of people raising their voices.’”—The New York Times
“Revealing, with the gripping intrigue of a Grisham thriller.” —O: The Oprah Magazine
Here is the inspiring story of how Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, alongside a team of researchers, parents, friends, and community leaders, discovered that the children of Flint, Michigan, were being exposed to lead in their tap water—and then battled her own government and a brutal backlash to expose that truth to the world. Paced like a scientific thriller, What the Eyes Don’t See reveals how misguided austerity policies, broken democracy, and callous bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk. And at the center of the story is Dr. Mona herself—an immigrant, doctor, scientist, and mother whose family’s activist roots inspired her pursuit of justice.
What the Eyes Don’t See is a riveting account of a shameful disaster that became a tale of hope, the story of a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for their—and all of our—children.
Praise for What the Eyes Don’t See
“It is one thing to point out a problem. It is another thing altogether to step up and work to fix it. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a true American hero.”—Erin Brockovich
“A clarion call to live a life of purpose.”—The Washington Post
“Gripping . . . entertaining . . . Her book has power precisely because she takes the events she recounts so personally. . . . Moral outrage present on every page.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Personal and emotional. . . She vividly describes the effects of lead poisoning on her young patients. . . . She is at her best when recounting the detective work she undertook after a tip-off about lead levels from a friend. . . . ‛Flint will not be defined by this crisis,’ vows Ms. Hanna-Attisha.”—The Economist
“Flint is a public health disaster. But it was Dr. Mona, this caring, tough pediatrican turned detective, who cracked the case.”—Rachel Maddow
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Until August 2015, Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha believed local officials’ assurances that the water she advised her patients to drink was perfectly safe. When she discovered the horrifying truth, Hanna-Attisha rallied a team of scientists who spent the next few years exposing criminal neglect and documenting the scope of the Michigan city’s environmental and humanitarian disaster. Part civics lesson, part true-crime thriller, Hanna-Attisha’s book is a riveting and utterly devastating chronicle of an ongoing American tragedy.
This powerful firsthand account from Hanna-Attisha recalls her efforts to alert government officials to the public health disaster caused by lead in the water supply of Flint, Mich. In April 2014, as a cost-cutting measure, Flint switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which had been a "toxic industrial dumping site for decades." Hanna-Attisha, who directs the pediatric residency program at Hurley Medical Center, where many of Flint's poor children are treated, received a tip about lead levels and realized her patients were particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. She recounts how state and local government officials ignored her requests for data, deflected responsibility, downplayed the threat, and tried to discredit the findings of her study, conducted with help from a corrosion expert, which found that the percentage of children with blood-lead elevations had doubled after the switch. That study eventually proved to be the "game-changer" that resulted in the state's declaring a public health emergency and switching the water source back to Lake Huron. Hanna-Attisha's empathy for her patients and the people of Flint comes through, as do her pride in her Iraqi roots and her persistent optimism. It's an inspiring work, valuable for anybody who wants to understand Flint's recent history.
A moving and informative book
This book is incredibly written and contains an immense amount of lessons. I cannot recommend it enough.