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Mountains Beyond Mountains

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  54,821 Ratings  ·  4,208 Reviews
Tracy Kidder is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, Among Schoolchildren, and Home Town. He has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” This powerful and inspiring new book shows how one person can make a difference, as Kidder tells the true story of a gifted man who is ...more
Audio CD, 9 pages
Published June 3rd 2003 by Random House Audio (first published 2003)
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Rachel I think the adult themes refers mostly to the descriptions of the suffering of the Haitians. There are some mildly graphic descriptions of their…moreI think the adult themes refers mostly to the descriptions of the suffering of the Haitians. There are some mildly graphic descriptions of their suffering and deaths occur several times throughout the book. I think an accurate movie adaptation would likely be PG13.(less)
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Jul 26, 2007 Miguel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that can read small small
I am not really sure where to begin when it comes to this book. Let us just say that Tracy Kidder writes a mean biography/account of perhaps one of the most influential people of our (Generation iPod/big box stores) time. This book really encapsulates what I imagine Paul Farmer's credo is; that is to say, fuck the idea of appropriate technology, sustainability and cost-effectiveness this is human suffering that we are flapping our tongues about...get real.

Sheer eloquence I know...

I am sure that
Will Byrnes
Dr. Paul Farmer is many things, world expert on AIDS and Tuberculosis, patient-care physician extraordinaire, founder of a ground-breaking health care facility in Haiti, consultant to Anti-TB programs in Peru and Russia, author of several books and countless articles, husband, father, and, maybe, saint. He has sympathy for liberation theology and a core understanding of the significance of Voodoo. He is a remarkable character, someone who is making a difference, doing paradigm-altering work in t ...more
Jul 18, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who yearns to "make a difference" but feels overwhelmed at where to start, this book will inspire you, maybe even shock you. Doctor Paul Farmer decided at the age of 23 to devote his life to treating the poor. He established a clinic in one of the most impoverished parts of Haiti called Zanmi Lasante. Over the next twenty years, he treated not just the poor in Haiti, but expanded to treat the poor in Peru and prisoners in Russia, leading efforts to address "impossible" diseases like m ...more
Jan 22, 2008 bruin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
in my opinion our construction of heroes in this world leaves a lot to be desired. and while paul farmer might indeed being doing incredible work with an incredible attitude/perspective, i tired quickly of this book's idolation and unquestioning worship.

this is *not* how we will create more heroes among ourselves and others. this is precisely how people like dr. king have been removed from the people and pedastalized to the detriment of our movements and our visions for change.

get a grip tracy
Mar 05, 2009 Cait rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: RPCVs, potential PCV, wanna-be doctors, people who need inspring
I lived on the Dominican Republic/Haiti border for a few years as a child, so the initial description in this book of how Haiti is fucked doesn't come as a surprise. I mean. Just about everything that could possibly go wrong on the road to becoming a self-sustaining country has just been ripped from them. (ASK ME MY FEELINGS ON THE LATEST COUP THERE AGH, AGH, OH MY GOD, AGH.)

Haiti: fucked. CHECK.

The book then goes on to describe the life and training of Paul Farmer. Paul Farmer, who managed to
I wish I had known. Paul Farmer, the subject of this book's adoration, spoke at Columbia's commencement ceremony this past May. At that time, I had never heard of him. If I had known, I would have gone and been able to see first-hand who he is.
"Mountains Beyond Mountains" is neither biography nor non-fiction, but is more a commentary on the author's time spent with Dr. Paul Farmer. It briefly browses through his life story: very unusual upbringing, extremely well-educated genius, quirky but char
Apr 24, 2008 Rose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mountains Beyond Mountains is a biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard educated physician who, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, set out to bring life-saving, 'first-world' medical practices to the desperately poor in rural Haiti. This book has almost become essential reading for those who have even the most cursory interest in fields often referred to as global health, social medicine, or public health.

Paul Farmer is a unique doctor who seems genuinely called to a life of service t
Gary  the Bookworm
Sep 05, 2014 Gary the Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-wine-club
“We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it is not worth it. So we fight the long defeat.”

Paul Farmer, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

Reading Tracy Kidder's engrossing portrait of Dr. Paul Farmer, a doctor and anthropologist, I came to understand that the above words weren't meant to be pessimistic or sentimental, they were simply a way of explaining the resolve which animates his extraor
Jul 08, 2007 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is required reading for all PC health volunteers. Just remember “If Paul is the standard, we are all fucked.” Farmer is a doctor working in rural Haiti, a land that many have forgotten and others are willfully ignoring. Tracy Kidder is a journalist who runs across Farmer while on assignment covering the political turmoil of Haiti in 1994. Kidder unexpectedly finds a man many would call (and have called) a saint. A enigmatic figure in jeans and a black shirt, Paul Farmer has taken on crippli ...more
Apr 24, 2007 carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you would like to feel like you are self-centered and haven't accomplished much, read about Doctor Paul. I was going to try to cure Africa of TB, but I just haven't had time lately. I need to meet this guy, if only to hear more stories about growing up on a bus. This book unfolds in a grabbing way, and reads easily despite a telling of facts and events.
Steph Su
Dec 24, 2012 Steph Su rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-changers
You’re not supposed to love this book. To do so would be to fall to the seduction of blind idolatry, and Farmer, the book’s subject, even points out that this is not his goal: the goal isn’t to convince more people to BE like Farmer, but rather to think like him, to believe in what he believes. As a fiction reader/writer who only sporadically dabbles in nonfiction, I find it hard to consolidate the opinions of the two types of readers in me: the one who reads to learn the craft of writing, and t ...more
Aug 22, 2016 Phyllis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish there were more people in this world like Paul Farmer, a doctor who specializes in medical anthropology and infectious diseases. Tracy Kidder followed him around the world for parts of three years to research this book. Paul Farmer brought treatment for TB, AIDS and Malaria to thousands of people in Haiti, Russia, and Peru. He would hike for seven hours to remote areas in Haiti to treat people. There are so many inspiring moments in this book. His philosophy was "the only real nation is h ...more
Erin Sorensen
Mar 11, 2008 Erin Sorensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing. Dr. Paul Farmer is my hero. This story really gives you a new perspective, it is very inspiring.
I have about a decade's experience of working in the medical field - the first couple working on a patient floor in a hospital as a unit clerk putting in orders so inpatients could get the tests they needed, calling codes and doctors during emergencies, that sort of thing. I thought that was stressful. (And it was, but I was also younger and had less perspective.) I wound up leaving that job and going back to the book store world because there are no book emergencies and that was greatly appeali ...more
Mar 24, 2015 Lily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Dr. Paul Farmer has remained an incredibly influential figure in my life as I continue towards a career in global health in the future. However, Kidder's portrayal of Farmer as a man worthy of incessant awe and praise seemed unexplained and confused me throughout the duration of this book. I really struggled to get into his narrative and felt as though I was reading more about Kidder's personal idolization of Farmer than the truth of Farmer's personality and his work abroad.
Sep 16, 2009 Anna-karin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it difficult to describe this book. There is a line in it that says something to the effect of: Don't let perfect get in the way of good. That describes the book as well as the doctor that the book is about. The good that this doctor has brought about and continues to bring about, and the good that the book has brought about by publicizing this, is hard to overestimate. While there are mistakes made by those who are working to bring about good, when we criticize their mistakes and hide ou ...more
How to rate a mind-numbingly long, adulating, repetitive book about an inspiring, dedicated, and apparently effective foot soldier and general in the fight to improve public health world-wide?
I read very quickly, finishing most non-fiction books in about 3 days. Determined to read it to the end, wanting to understand more about the subject and his passions, it took me weeks to plow through this book. Sometimes I could only tolerate about 15 minutes at a time.
Do I now know who Dr. Paul Farmer is
Nov 16, 2008 Hans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about people.
Though I am sure that Dr. Paul Farmer has flaws like the rest of us, he does have something that makes him stand apart, a powerful dedication to others. Certainly there may be ways to criticize this book, either by focusing on the trivial like writing style or the implausibility of replicating what he has done, but the overall message is what is so powerfully compelling. It is more than a story about one man's struggle to make the world better for the less fortunate. It is a reflection and analy ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for two different book groups and it provoked some fine discussion and certainly left me thinking about it long afterward. Essentially, I wrestled with the notion of selflessness, because Paul Farmer seems like one of the most selfless (not to mention brilliant) individuals ever to roam the earth -- but at what cost? And to whom? And what kind of person is capable of that level of commitment and sacrifice (although he would hasten to downplay such a description of his efforts and inc ...more
May 22, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
I loved this book. I was told to read this book and put it off for a month or two. I was wrong. An amazing story about a man I knew nothing about but glad that I heard the story. Kudos to Tracy Kidder, the Pulitzer award writer for telling us his story. Sometimes it felt like reading a good mystery page turner. I just wanted to know how things turned out.

Conviction is what Dr. paul Farmer has. Conviction is something we all need. He began Partners in Health to help out the poorest of poor in Hai
Fred Forbes
If I were to judge the content of this book by the actions of the main subject, Dr. Paul Farmer, I would naturally award it 5 stars. This is an amazing individual - one gets tired just reading about him as the travels the world - Haiti, Peru, Russia - aiding the impoverished by treating infectious diseases like TB and AIDs. How he ever finds time to write, publish, and address conventions is beyond me. But, Kidder's prose gets a bit wearying, repetitive, and plodding at times. Unusual for so acc ...more
Nov 11, 2009 Brandi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Had to read this for a first year university thing, and greatly resented this first uni experience. What I got out of this book was that, basically, if you weren't helping the sick in Haiti, then you suck. I felt like Tracy Kidder didn't appreciate the valuable work of anyone else in any other field - or, honestly, anybody but Dr. Farmer. Then Dr. Farmer came to speak to my school, and I hated the book even more after being forced to listen to him. I rarely hate books, but Kidder's uncritical pr ...more
Jan 29, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really powerful stories of Paul Farmer's work in Haiti. I liked the way that Kidder, who clearly has a deep admiration for Farmer, manages to have him emerge as a three-dimensional person and not an uncomplicated saint. He's a jerk sometimes, he's at least a little bit arrogant, but he's still an unbelievably dedicated humanitarian who does the work out of passion and love.
My favorite line from the book, which sums up Farmer's ethos and the ideas that spur his work, is "The idea that some lives
Mar 13, 2010 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contact with the work and the ideas of Dr. Paul Farmer has changed my life. I see now as blindingly obvious something I never realized before, that the poor and powerless among us deserve the very best care of anyone. That healthcare, and by extension clean water, nutritious food, a decent place to live, and a good education are human rights that we as a society should work diligently to extend to everyone. Not only that, but it's highly doable, and we just need to go on and do it, and not pay a ...more
In international aid and development, sustainability is a Very Big Deal. There are a great many problems in the world, and limited resources for dealing with them. So most institutional funders prefer projects that are cost-effective, don’t require continual ongoing funding, and don’t rely solely on one person doing something no-one else could replicate. This book is the story of an alternate route.

Paul Farmer has devoted his life primarily to treating the sick in Haiti. But he’s caught in a co
When companies have to make really hard decisions everyday, they create a protocol to take the emotions out of the process and to focus only on value. When governments do it, it's called collateral damage. Paul Farmer doesn't believe in protocol OR collateral damage. He believes in curing people of curable diseases, no matter where they live, who they are or how much money they have.

I keep trying to think of a metaphor to describe Farmer's drive. Imagine if your house was on fire and all your f
Jun 15, 2010 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You won't soon read another book about any figure as inspiring as Dr. Paul Farmer, I guarantee you.

Farmer's life work has been about bringing health care to the poor and the imprisoned. In the case of the poor, mainly to the peasants of Haiti and the TB-ridden inhabitants of the slums of Lima, Peru. In the case of the imprisoned, the prisoners in Russia with multi-drug resistant TB.

Astoundingly, Farmer worked his way through Harvard Medical School while spending most of his time in Haiti, putti
Cate Brooks
I wonder how horrible of a person it makes me to only give 3 stars to a book about an incredibly humanistic idealist doctor of infectious disease in 3rd world countries. My rating more reflects on how much I enjoyed the read. I struggle with NF. I often find it redundant after a while and like other NF reads, I felt inertia build to read through to the end since there was no bigger narrative that made me wonder "how will this turn out?" "What is the resolve of this story". I'll own that as my ow ...more
I just finished this amazing account of the work of Paul Farmer. Farmer is a medical anthropologist, who travels the world (including Peru, Russia and Haiti). His name is one of the best known in international medical circles. He is a champion for the poor, and not just the American poor, but those who are oppressively, chronically poor-with barely any hope of ever seeing a doctor in their lives. Tracy Kidder dos an amazing job of chronicling his time spent with Farmer, traveling back and forth ...more
Sep 15, 2007 Juliet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves
This was such an engrossing book. I think my response to Paul Farmer was a bit like author Tracy Kidder's - fascinated admiration mixed with a feeling of personal inadequacy leading to a blend of irritated fan worship. How could I ever be like this guy? Isn't he amazing? And liberation theology - wow, what a concept but how does preferential option for the poor work in real life? It seems so "all or nothing." Give up my bread -so to speak- like Farmer, so the poor can eat?

Which ultimately is not
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Tracy Kidder is an American author and Vietnam War veteran. Kidder may be best known, especially within the computing community, for his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Soul of a New Machine, an account of the development of Data General's Eclipse/MV minicomputer. The book typifies his distinctive style of research. He began following the project at its inception and, in addition to interviews, spent c ...more
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“And I can imagine Farmer saying he doesn't care if no one else is willing to follow their example. He's still going to make these hikes, he'd insist, because if you say that seven hours is too long to walk for two families of patients, you're saying that their lives matter less than some others', and the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that's wrong with the world.” 65 likes
“WL’s [White Liberals] think all the world’s problems can be fixed without any cost to themselves. We don’t believe that. There’s a lot to be said for sacrifice, remorse, even pity. It’s what separates us from roaches” 37 likes
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