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The Blood of Strangers: Stories from Emergency Medicine

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  253 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Hailed by The Boston Globe as "a compact, faceted gem that shines with intelligence," this stunning collection offers a startling and moving look at people whose lives are on the line and the men and women who try to keep them from crossing it. These twenty-eight vignettes
seamlessly juxtapose visceral portrayals of life-and-death medical situations with lyrical meditation
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Picador (first published January 1st 1999)
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Apr 08, 2008 Lauren rated it it was amazing
perfectly small and extremely vivid stories. I devoured this book on a plane trip and then tried to get the guy sitting next to me to read it.
Nov 18, 2012 Farah rated it really liked it
The Blood of Strangers, by Frank Huyler, contains several stories based on Huyler's personal experiences in the ER. Some of these accounts are unbelievably gory, while others are melancholy, tragic, or downright scary. Whatever the story, Huyler describes all of them with such vivid detail and accuracy that it just draws the reader in. I was absolutely captivated by his lyrical yet somewhat detached writing style, which made his experiences with the characters - the patients and doctors alike - ...more
Martha Souza
Feb 03, 2015 Martha Souza rated it it was amazing
This was a surprising book, a sleeper.
It was very well written, almost lyrical. This is a window into the world of the Emergency Department physician.
Dr. Huyler exposed the other side of the physician, not always the professional with no feelings of empathy. Yet this gave, also, a glimpse of true human reactions to situations and people.
Louis C Smith
Nov 04, 2016 Louis C Smith rated it really liked it
the world the way it really is!
Dec 24, 2012 Zedsdead rated it really liked it
A satisfying collection of 2-5 page first-person vignettes set in a hospital emergency room. It reminds me of Company K, although it lacks that book's overarching narrative. These stories are all experienced by one doctor across several years.

(view spoiler)
Annika Khan
Nov 07, 2016 Annika Khan rated it really liked it
The Blood of Strangers Book Review
The Blood of Strangers by Frank Huyler is a series of short stories that offers a different side to the lives of physicians and patients that most people don’t expect to see. As someone who wants to go into the medical professional, I believe that I learned quite a lot from reading this book. I learned that there is a soft and compassionate side to physicians that would normally be seen as cold and detached with only the purpose of treating patients. This is t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 13, 2015 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the most part, I wasn't particularly impressed. I would finish one of his short essays, and go "Huh. Okay. So?" I needed to know more about the author in order to understand why he chose THIS story to tell me. I was left to make sense of it on my own, but my own experience is so disparate from his that I couldn't place the lesson I was supposed to learn (assuming there was one - maybe the point was that there wasn't?). So that was disappointing. Once he told some stories about himself in con ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Tessa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, medical
I absolutely love this book, and cannot say that enough. Huyler's writing is very direct and in your face, which is something I liked. What prompted me to the buy the book was a comment made by a reviewer that stated that he was soulless and heartless, not caring enough about his patients. I beg to difference, there is care in each and every one of the stories - one just needs to look deeper into the work. All because he does not let the negative effects of not being able to save a patient inter ...more
Benjamin Gladwin
Sep 19, 2012 Benjamin Gladwin rated it it was amazing
Can I recommend this book to my friends from medicine as a beautifully written book on our emergency departments. Slightly romanticised in places but disturbingly close to a long list of our personal experiences.

Can I recommend this book to my friends outside of medicine, with one note of caution. Probably more than 95% of this is real. It may make you appreciate your doctor more. It may make you never go to them again. I'm not sure if there is a middle ground. I guess the only other outcome is
Robin Candelaria
Jan 06, 2011 Robin Candelaria rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone, but especially medical students, residents and other medical professionals
I have always enjoyed stories about doctor's and TV shows about doctor's but this book by Dr. Huyler is one of the best I have experienced. He opened himself to share stories from his experiences in residency and as an emergency medicine physician and also shares his feelings relating to these stories and his patients. Dr. Huyler has such an amazing and captivating writing style and his stories are truly amazing. He has also written two novels which I look forward to reading. You can learn more ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Ashley rated it really liked it
By far one of the best medicine-story-type books I've read - mainly because there's nothing too complicated about it. It's quite literally just a bunch of short vignettes about what it's like being a doctor - working with strange-ass colleagues, that one time you almost missed a diagnosis that would've killed someone, that horrible patient that you thought was lying but actually had a broken neck - all those sorts of things. Plus, it was real short (my slow-reader self finished it in just a coup ...more
Connie Curtis
Apr 09, 2012 Connie Curtis rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I've always loved reading about the medical profession, and this one is a great one. Full of anecdotes from the ER, there are stories that are funny, weird, sad, anything you can imagine. I love behind-the-scenes looks at pretty near anything, and this is a good one for those who want to see what really goes on in any hospital emergency room. It's a short book, an easy read for one night if you have a few hours.
Jun 04, 2011 Matthew rated it liked it
As i'm in New Mexico at the moment and the author writes about his time as an ER attending in new mexico I appreciate all characters he describes that may be rather unique to this part of the country. Basically it is a series of short vignettes of his experiences, but I found that it provides an important aspect on how to remain human and compassionate. It is a relaxing mellow read.
Mar 27, 2009 Kim rated it it was amazing
I love medical narratives. And I love beautiful writing. This is both --- an ER doctor writes of his adventures with the words of a poet, of one who really pays attention to the details. Gorgeous and insightful book, not only about medicine but about death, assumptions, and finding the goodness in people.
Nov 14, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Short and to the point. Interesting and varied stories from multiple departments related to emergency medicine. Enjoyed the writing style, which isn't always true with medical "biographies". Most seemed pretty spot on and poignant reminders of my own experiences, but some did go over to the House of God side of things.
Apr 06, 2016 Annie rated it it was ok
He writes about his experiences during his residency. I was not impressed. If the goal was to humanize doctors, he failed. He doesn't seem to want to see patients as people, he sees them as assigned tasks in his rotation. Nursing students learn about the arts of nursing - compassion, empathy, dignity. Medical students don't have room in their curriculum and in this book, it shows.
Dec 17, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it
Read this in my med lit class, interesting perspective from an emergency room doctor. Maybe don't read if you're sick or if someone close to you is - makes hospitals seem a whole lot less predictable then one would hope.
Oct 28, 2011 Rahadyan rated it it was amazing
Dr. Frank Huyler is an emergency-room physician in Albuquerque, NM. The vignettes in this book are snapshots from his residency. A quick read but very sobering for anyone entering the medical field. Highly recommended.
Mar 12, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not bad. Quick read. Some of the stories were pretty interesting. Some not so much. Guess I thought a ER doctor would have had some crazier stories than most of these, but still not bad. Got the book for $1 at the library old book sale. So can't complain.
May 03, 2014 Alex rated it it was amazing
I loved Huyler's novel, "The Right of Thirst," and thought these non-fictiony vignettes from a New Mexico ER were quite brilliant. Of the 28 micro-scenes, I'd say only about four fall flat, which is impressive. I loved this book.
Jun 21, 2009 Bev rated it really liked it
He writes well and tell the sad and troubling stories of those who who are suffering and those who care for them. A short read but but worthy.
Tina Panik
Beautifully succinct writing that captures the intensity of a career in the emergency room. Huyler captures, "life in the presence of great damage," (pg 42) with this collection. A powerful read.
May 31, 2014 Fiona rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
Short book written by an attending doctor in the ER. Snap shots of the things he witnesses, poignant, touching and very very real.
Jan 03, 2015 Zetagilgamesh rated it it was amazing
Weird, wonderful, compact, compelling. its a brutal look at real life in medicine and the ER. Not glamorous, but simply full of life.
Mar 30, 2015 Sanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I liked the stories, but for my taste they were too short. Also lack of the fine details about the cases left them vague and made them seem more fictional than real.
Jun 24, 2009 Laura rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
True stories of an ER doctor, each one is only 1-2 pages. I would have liked fewer but longer stories, they seem to just end abruptly. Was recommended by Michael Ruhlman on his food blog.
Jun 25, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick read, really makes you see situations from a different side. What might be an ordinary day for you, might be a day from hell for your neighbor.
Jul 14, 2010 Maggie rated it it was amazing
Elegant, spare, fascinating. A fast read - the chapters/episodes are very short. Some might find it ghoulish.
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Born 1964, in Berkeley, CA; married, 2000. Education: Williams College, B.A., 1986; University of North Carolina School of Medicine, M.D., M.P.H. Addresses: Home: Albuquerque, NM.


Emergency medicine physician, educator, and author. University of New Mexico Hospitals, Albuquerque, resident, 1993- 96; physician, 1996--; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, assistant professor of emergency m
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