Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him” as Want to Read:
He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  520 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
Soon to be a major motion picture, from Brad Pitt and Tony Kushner

A Washington Post Best Book of 2015

A mid-century doctor's raw, unvarnished account of his own descent into madness, and his daughter's attempt to piece his life back together and make sense of her own.


Texas-born and Harvard-educated, Dr. Perry Baird was a rising medical star in the late 1920s and 1930s. Earl
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Crown
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about He Wanted the Moon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about He Wanted the Moon

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Diane S ☔
Nov 29, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
A daughters quest to understand the father that literally disappeared from her life. In 1944, Doctor Percy Baird was confined to a mental institution after a sever episode of mania. Mimi was only six when he was no longer in the home and was only told by her mother, that he was away.

The first part of the book are all in her Father's writing, he penned down his experiences with his illness and his treatment at the institutions to which he was committed. What was amazing to me was how much he rem
...more
Cathy
Jul 26, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it
A Harvard educated dermatologist Dr. Perry Biard, develops bipolar disorder, is institutionalized resulting in the loss of his family, friends and practice. It is 1944 and his disappearance is never explained to his six year old daughter, Mimi. For years denial and silence were maintained until a chance discussion with a doctor leads to information and opens the extraordinary journey Mimi takes to uncover what she can about her father.
He Wanted the Moon is written in two parts. The first from a
...more
Kara
Nov 23, 2014 Kara rated it it was amazing
Note: In composing this review, I have assumed the reader to have read the summary provided on the page on which this is posted, or, regardless of what information this page does or doesn't provide, or to have found out this book's general topic.

I was very excited to read He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him, and I was fortunate enough to win an advance edition (publication expected in February) through the LibraryThing Early
...more
Amanda
Mar 08, 2016 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is absolutely horrifying what was done to patients in the name of mental health. This is an interesting memoir about a daughters search to find her father who disappeared from her life at a young age. He was in and out of mental institutions and received some truly terrifying "treatments".
W. Whalin
Mar 09, 2015 W. Whalin rated it it was amazing
This compelling read has two clear parts. The first portion uses first person diary entries from a successful dermatologist Dr. Perry Baird who suffers from manic depression. The disease ends his medical career.

The second portion tells the inside story of a daughter's search (the author Mimi Baird) to know and understand her father. I found both the first part and the second portion a page-turner experience.

The title for this fascinating book comes from a neighbor who described Dr. Perry Baird
...more
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
HE WANTED THE MOON is an amazing book that has stuck with me months after I read it. I found the book to be educational --in an entertaining way-- and at times simply horrifying.

Now I rather imagine that you, like me, have run across some textbook entries or articles about the Manic-Depressive state. I don't know about you but I feel that Depression is the easier part of that equation to understand. Depression-alone is a common enough ailment. Manic though is not common. Yet, I thought I had a
...more
Raven Haired Girl
Apr 29, 2015 Raven Haired Girl added it
Shelves: 2015
A mid-century doctor’s raw, unvarnished account of his own descent into madness, and his daughter’s attempt to piece his life back together and make sense of her own.

Baird’s impeccable journal account of his descent into the depths along with his institutional stays are well detailed. His brilliant mind citing the cruel mistreatment by staff, barbaric treatments administered. His feelings of loneliness and isolation heartbreaking. As his disease appears and fades, his many losses are felt, his h
...more
AJ
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marjorie
Apr 10, 2015 Marjorie rated it it was amazing
Dr. Perry Baird’s daughter, Mimi Baird, has put together a fascinating and heart-wrenching book chronicling her father’s struggle with bipolar disease in the 40's. The book consists partly of her father’s own writings while in a mental institution and partly her efforts to learn more about her father’s life.

I commend this author’s achievement in bringing her father’s story to publication. He had wanted his story told but was never able to due to his illness. The fact that his daughter, so very m
...more
Dena (Batch of Books)


Dr. Perry Baird was a brilliant man with a promising career ahead of him. He was bright, charismatic, and full of energy. He had a beautiful wife and two little daughters that he loved dearly. He also suffered from manic depression. In the high manic phases, he had an abundance of energy and stamina. He was also violent, destructive, and unpredictable. The first part of He Wanted the Moon is Dr. Baird’s own account of his illness and the treatments of the day. It’s fascinating, horrifying, and s
...more
Maggie
Feb 03, 2015 Maggie rated it liked it
This short, interesting book brings to light the experiences of a physician whose promising career was ruined by bipolar disorder back in the 1940s. Medications like Lithium were not available at that time, and it was common for manic phase patients to be hospitalized and brutally “treated” with methods like being tied to a bed wearing a straitjacket for long periods of time.

Dr. Perry Baird kept an detailed journal of his experiences, writing even when he was hospitalized and experiencing sympto
...more
Rebecca
Feb 14, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it
I reviewed this book, and, for a while, I didn't see much audience for it. A brilliant manic-depressive doctor's journal from the 50's. Hmm. The man's daughter received these writings years and years after her father's death. She had never really been told where he had gone when she was 6 (to the mental hospital). I am mildly interested in bipolar disorder and mental illness, but these pages were heartbreaking in their honesty or not (I guess you don't really know). What a sad story. We have ...more
Pam Mooney
Feb 02, 2015 Pam Mooney rated it liked it
A beautiful and tragic story pieced together by the doctor's daughter. Very much a primer for doctors, friends, and family members of those with mental illness. You are able to read the physician patient's manuscript along with the medical records from the hospital. Coupled with the daughter's account this gives a rare insight to the lack of understanding and unimaginable treatments of those with mental illness within this era. You may be able to conclude if only through his physician friends ...more
Kim H.
Mar 25, 2015 Kim H. rated it really liked it
Having worked in several fields of service that included people with various forms of mental illness (nursing homes, 13 years as an ordained parish minister, now with a mental health office), I find the opportunity to delve into the inner workings and thoughts of those with any disorder an opportunity to better understand not only that person, but others as well. That's why I was eager to read Mimi Baird's account of her father's bi-polar disorder and how he was treated in the 1940s through the ...more
Brigid Keely
In 1944, when Mimi Baird was 6 years old, her father disappeared from her life. Following the social mores of the time, her mother never rarely mentioned him. She divorced and remarried and Mimi Baird was left with a father-shaped hole in the fabric of her life. As an adult, she reconnected with her father's family and received from them a manuscript her father, Dr. Perry Baird, had written. She used this manuscript, this memoir, to reconstruct some of those missing years.

"He Wanted the Moon: Th
...more
BiancaTC
I requested this book from Blogging for Books to review because I was immediately fascinated by the subject. I've read a couple of other books dealing with the subject of manic depression disorder (now called bipolar disorder) such as An Unquiet Mind and Brain on Fire (both really great!).

He Wanted the Moon is a daughter's quest to know and understand the father she never really got to know as a child. Dr. Perry Baird was a brilliant Harvard educated dermatologist who suffered from manic depres
...more
Michelle
Mar 31, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, ebooks
This is an extraordinary and heartfelt family story of a father and family broken and severed by severe mental illness. Known in the 1930's-1940's as "manic depressive psychosis" a most feared, dreaded, frequently misunderstood mental condition, defined today as Bipolar Spectrum Disorder in the DSM. Authored by Mimi Baird with Eve Claxton, her brilliant highly regarded father Perry Baird M.D. was scientifically researching the disorder, his findings were published in a medical journal, when he ...more
Barb
Feb 15, 2015 Barb rated it really liked it
This book is a love story and tribute to the author's father and a heartbreaking first hand account of his experiences as a patient in a mental hospital. The author has combined her father's writings, his medical records and her personal memories to create a loving tribute to a brilliant but mentally ill man.

Anyone with an interest in mental health will find this a worthy read. Perry Baird's descriptions of his physical and emotional isolation from friends and family who might have offered some
...more
Ann
Apr 15, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it
This book should be required reading for anyone with an interest in the true nature of mania. The book consists nearly entirely of (edited) journals and notes written by Dr. Perry Baird (the author's father), a well-known dermatologist who, around 1944, went into a deep manic episode from which he never fully recovered. After a few days of bouncing around Boston, arousing increasing concerns in his family, friends and associates, he was forcibly removed to a state asylum, where he received the ...more
Kristy K
Dec 05, 2016 Kristy K rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced reader's copy from Read It Forward in return for an honest review.

I am having a hard time putting into words just how powerful He Wanted the Moon was for me. It was utterly fascinating and heart wrenchingly tragic. Mimi Baird, the author and Dr. Baird’s daughter, transcribed his story from the withered pieces of paper he had written on into this beautiful narrative. Then she added her own memories and journey through this process.

Dr. Baird suffered from manic depression in
...more
Stacy Cook
Nov 26, 2014 Stacy Cook rated it really liked it
The story of Dr. Perry Baird, a doctor suffering from Manic Depression (aka Bipolar Disorder) and his quest to find a cure before the disease over takes his own life. I won this book from both Goodreads and Librarything and applied to win at both websites because I too live with Bipolar Disorder. I could really sympathize with Dr. Baird and his horrific struggles in mental hospitals. I took notes, highlighted and post-it noted this book to death. I could not believe the "remedies" these doctors ...more
Beth
Jan 19, 2015 Beth rated it it was ok
Manic depression, now known as bi-polar disorder, is a heart-breaking disease. As with most mental illnesses, it affects not only the person suffering, but also their friends and family members in ways often unthinkable for those unaffected. How much more suffering would be felt if the person with the disease was a doctor - and one who had studied the mental illness he was beginning to suffer from?

Mimi Baird "lost" her father as a very young girl. She was not told about her father's illness or w
...more
Vikki
May 13, 2015 Vikki rated it really liked it
He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird was a most interesting book for me. This is the story of the author's father. He was a Harvard-educated doctor living in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a dermatologist and did research on Addison's disease. His work was interrupted by his bouts of manic depression that he was hospitalized for. He was subjected to straight jackets (which he tells us how to get out of) and eventually has a lobotomy.
This book is the daughter's quest to find out more about her father.
...more
Vivian Harrington
He Wanted The Moon * The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter’s Quest to Know Him
By Mimi Baird with Eve Claxton

This book is a bald, brutal, deeply disturbing look at mental illness from the perspective of the ultimate insider – Harvard educated physician Perry Baird who suffered from bi-polar disorder and wrote about his experiences in mental institutions during the 1930’s through the 1950’s.

Mimi Baird was 6 years old when her father disappeared from her life in 1944
...more
Claudia Putnam
Not the greatest writing at times, but workable, and worth reading for historical value but also because of the intriguing work the brilliant Perry Baird began by injecting cats whose adrenal glands had been removed with the blood of manic patients. Gross as this animal research was, the injected cats lived about 5 times longer, suggesting SOMETHING about adrenaline and mania, which seems intuitive anyhow. The results were published in a peer-reviewed journal, but this was during WWII, and most ...more
Steven
Quite a moving tale of a daughter, who, after years of wondering about the father she hardly remembered, is handed a box containing a manuscript written by him.

Baird's father was a well-heeled dermatologist in Boston in the '30s and '40s who developed what we would today call bipolar disorder. As a physician, he was somewhat aware of the process he was going through, and attempted to write down his experiences as his career, family and sanity melted away from him.

The first half of the book con
...more
Sarah
Jan 05, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, nonfiction
I won this book as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

I don't read a lot of adult non-fiction, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested. So, I was pleased to win this book and give it a shot. Unfortunately, it wasn't really what I expected. The first part of the book is Dr. Baird's manuscript - the book he wrote through his struggle with manic depression. It's presented mostly without comment in part one and is, at times, a bit difficult to read and comprehend. Part two goes into the
...more
Kathleen Nightingale
Jul 18, 2016 Kathleen Nightingale rated it really liked it
Really a 4.75 but we aren't allowed to do fractions on Goodreads.

This book was the most disturing and profounding moving book I have read this year. Baird's account of how he endured straighjackets, cold packs, insulin induced comas, clectric shock therapy and humilition he soldiered on with his manic depression. It wasn't until Baird received a lobotomy and shock therapy that he was totally broken down and subsequently died. How unfortunate. Baird, as the author states was one of the first, if
...more
♥ Sandi
Mar 03, 2015 ♥ Sandi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2-want
Dr Perry Baird was experimenting with a cure for manic depression - as he himself was diagnosed with the disease. By the time his experiments were found to be helpful Dr Baird had been repeatedly committed to an insane asylum. During his institutionalization he wrote with the intent of publishing a book on this mental disorder. He later had a lobotomy and died institutionalized.

After his death, his daughter, Mimi, was sent his actual hand written manuscript, which helped to familiarize her with
...more
Brittany
Mar 28, 2015 Brittany rated it it was amazing
He Wanted the Moon is a deeply moving, eye-opening, and terrifying look into manic-depression and mental illness. The "treatments" that Dr. Perry Baird undergoes at psychiatric hospitals in the 1940s sounds more like the treatments you heard leak out of Guantanamo Bay. With involuntary incarcerations, prison-like conditions, and what can only be described as torture, it is no wonder that those diagnosed with mental illness saw no recovery. Having family who suffer from manic-depression, now more ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-Of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life
  • A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the Science behind Three Generations of Mental Illness
  • Why Be Jewish?: A Testament
  • Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression
  • Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness
  • Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue
  • Beware of the Therapist: How His Lust for My Suicidal Wife Destroyed Our Family and What I Did to Ensure He Could Never Hurt Anyone Again
  • When Quietness Came: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey With Schizophrenia
  • Leonardo's Brain: Understanding da Vinci's Creative Genius
  • Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself
  • Learning from the Voices in My Head
  • Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in Crisis
  • Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life
  • Shakespeare Basics for Grown-Ups: Everything You Need to Know About the Bard
  • My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness
  • Behind the Gates of Gomorrah: A Year with the Criminally Insane
  • Same Time Next Week: True Stories of Working Through Mental Illness
  • Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry
8268946
Mimi Baird was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of Colby-Sawyer College. While working as a manager at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, she met a surgeon who had once known her father, which prompted her quest to finally understand her father's life and legacy. Her first book, He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to ...more
More about Mimi Baird...

Share This Book