I received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
Doug Bremner worked as an expert witness for plaintiffs in lawsuits against pharmaceu...moreI received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
Doug Bremner worked as an expert witness for plaintiffs in lawsuits against pharmaceutical-giant Roche over the anti-acne medication Accutane. During that time, Roche and its attorneys went to great length to try and sway or discredit him, not only with legitimate criticisms, but with spurious accusations. Meanwhile, Bremner was also coming to terms with his mother's death. She had died while he was very young and Bremner had not addressed the circumstances or emotions related to it. This memoir, though described on the back cover as being the story of that first portion, focuses more heavily on the latter. Consequently, it feels like the reader has been misled.
Furthermore, and admittedly this is the fault of the reader, an expert witness, even one who clinically proves the drug's negative side effects, plays only a small part in the story of said drug's impact. Thus, this memoir leaves much of the story out. It would be better to know the victims beyond a couple of statements, or how the trials proceeded, or what else Roche was doing in response to the threat to their prized goose. Sadly, you don't find that information here.
This book could be useful as a resource for someone wanting to write complete story of Accutane, though Bremner neglects to go into details of the methodology and assessment that led to his conclusions, but, were I a book editor (though I'm absolutely unqualified), I would ask the following question during the writing process.
What book do you want to write? If this is a memoir, then it should be written with that focus, but it means selling the book about you, and just you and what lessons you can impart through your experiences. Memoirs are not only about recounting but, more-importantly, assessing one's life. Yes, you can include Accutane because it's part of your story, but Accutane is clearly not the focus of the story here. If it is about Accutane, then make sure to write about the full story, not just your role. Your participation in events, though significant, is limited.
Ultimately, I cannot recommend this volume. Though it reminds us of the perils of libertarianism and the folly of thinking that bad actors can be corrected through lawsuits, it gets lost in the story of a man who lost his mother and took a long time to come to terms with it.(less)
I received a free copy of the book from the author.
Author Alan Sakowitz perceives a moral decay in the United States. But, unlike the common social co...moreI received a free copy of the book from the author.
Author Alan Sakowitz perceives a moral decay in the United States. But, unlike the common social conservative focus on sex, Sakowitz is concerned about greed, about get rich quick, and about undeserved entitlement.
Sakowitz draws from his experience encountering a Ponzi scheme run by Scott Rothstein. While Sakowitz did not invest, he was one of the first, if not the first, to draw authorities' attention to it. Setting Rothstein as the symbol of what is wrong with contemporary American culture, Sakowitz intersperses the story of the scheme's unraveling with anecdotes of sacrifice in his own Orthodox Jewish community. As he progresses, much the way a cleric would in a sermon, he expands from the original narrative into implications and onward into solutions. In this continuation, he expands into such areas as social security, welfare, and charity.
The question one should ask at this point is, "is it convincing?", to which I must respond, "somewhat." Sakowitz's argument on the contemporary culture of greed is self-evident in light of the banking crisis and the current mortgage meltdown. Though that makes it no less worth reading as Rothstein's activities occured post Madoff, reminding people not to relax just because one bad person has been caught. Indeed, his deliberation on the nature of investment and risk is well worth reading for the neophyte.
Where it stumbles, in my opinion, is how the alternative anecdotes focus on the author's individual community. From the perspective of write what you know, the focus makes perfect sense. This is what Sakowitz knows and, in no uncertain terms, the stories from his community provide positive examples of how one should live their life, regardless of culture, political orientation, or religious denomination, but it falters in two areas. First is Sakowitz's membership in the community itself. As a member, the author communicates the stories from a first person plural, "we", perspective. While I don't doubt the stories Sakowitz tells, the writing sometimes comes across as aggressively promotional. These stories would have been much better told from an outsider's perspective. Though I yield that it is unlikely anyone outside the community would draw attention to them. An unfortunate Catch-22.
Secondly, parables (and I think in certain respects that is what Sakowitz is going for) try to generalize their characters to make them accessible to their target audience. In the case of Miles Away ... Worlds Apart, is the target audience the entire American population? Then I fear these stories cum parables may, unfortunately, be found somewhat inaccessible. Even worse, some potential recipients may be outright hostile, not because of the message, but because of a cultural divide.
In short (too late, I know) the book provides a positive message that is worth hearing, but the telling may isolate it from a broader appeal.(less)