What an incredible, and incredibly important, book. I originally shied away because of the length, but am so glad I read it. I did so on vacation, whi...moreWhat an incredible, and incredibly important, book. I originally shied away because of the length, but am so glad I read it. I did so on vacation, which was definitely the way to go; it's extremely well written, but the subject matter is so complicated that keeping track of what's going on is easier with less time between sittings.
To me, the first half of the book read like a mystery thriller--I was in college during Katrina, and kind of oblivious to the outside world, so I didn't know anything about what had happened at Memorial or other hospitals in New Orleans.
The author painstakingly (but in a very readable way) details both what happened during the storm, and afterward, at Memorial Hospital, as well as the backstory of key characters and institutions. And she does so in a way that is, I thought, very fair to everyone involved, which is no small feat given how emotionally (and ethically) charged the situation was and is.
Ultimately, she seems to think that the doctors in question should have been brought to trial, and especially that they should have had to testify under oath; I found that less compelling than her argument that they should have lost their medical licenses. And the author, I think, has more contempt for the individuals involved than I came away with--for me, the biggest failings were on the part of the city/county/state/country (which we knew) but also on the hospital's leadership and especially ownership. To me, it's very hard to condemn the doctors and nurses who stayed at the hospital, labored for days, and ultimately made a few very bad decisions under lots of stress and pressure (with no leadership--indeed it was never clear who was making decisions--or guidance and bad information, including about the degree of lawlessness outside the hospital). And ultimately, doctors at other hospitals and nursing homes appear to have made similar--if not quite as bad--decisions. That said, ceasing keeping records of patients' treatment, right around the time it neared ethical boundaries, seems sufficient to warrant losing a medical license; doctors also didn't consult with patients' families about end-of-life preferences.
But for corporate leaders, sitting in the comfort of their offices in Dallas, not to spring to action? To say nothing of having an appropriate disaster plan in place beforehand. As the author details, other New Orleans hospitals either did have functional disaster-recovery programs (the county hospital, Charity), or responded much better to the difficult conditions (Tulane Hospital, owned by HCA). That the hospital's CEO was on-site during the storm and its aftermath, but seemingly not involved whatsoever in the planning or decision-making around how to evacuate the hospital, says all you need to know about Tenet (and indeed, Memorial execs used the nearby cancer center, which had electricity, to make warm meals, but never thought to use the electricity to help deteriorating patients). Unsurprisingly, the company then adopted a CYA approach after the storm, milking employees for information and then declining to pay for their attorneys.
But while I don't think the doctors and nurses should have been brought to trial, the author does convincingly argue that the medical community's response--to close ranks, not engage with the underlying philosophical question, and indeed to lobby for legislation to protect doctors from any prosecution in disaster situations--leaves much to be desired. And Dr. Pou in particular used her newfound celebrity to argue for this sort of legislation, but in doing so, gave a rather rosy description of what she had done, leaving out the fact that she injected patients, and especially that rescue helicopters and boats came.
Anyway, this is a very compelling book, well executed despite the challenging topic, fair to everyone involved (such that facts are presented fairly enough that you can draw different conclusions than the author does), and thought-provoking about this situation but also disaster preparedness and especially end-of-life medical ethics more generally. Well-deserving of all its accolades.(less)
Ok, full disclosure is that I only read a third of this book--but I am posting this review in case it's helpful. I really wanted to love it--I like Ke...moreOk, full disclosure is that I only read a third of this book--but I am posting this review in case it's helpful. I really wanted to love it--I like Keri's writing on Grantland, read a ton of non-fiction, and love baseball. Keri clearly loves the Expos (I didn't know this before starting the book, but it's obvious upon reading it, and sure enough, confirmed via Google), and it's clear that this book was a labor of love--perhaps so much so as to be less interesting to the reader. I'm absolutely interested in the history of the Expos franchise, but not a detailing of the key players, games, and free-agent transactions of each season, which is the level of detail in this book. I think ultimately, you have to be interested in not just the story of the Expos but the year-to-year history of the team, in order to really enjoy this book.(less)
This book has a few interesting factoids, is written accessibly, and doesn't take too long to get through--but ultimately I wouldn't recommend it. It'...moreThis book has a few interesting factoids, is written accessibly, and doesn't take too long to get through--but ultimately I wouldn't recommend it. It's fairly vacuous; I mean that not in the ultra-pejorative sense, but just that there's not much to it. It's light on policy recommendations, or even just conclusions from all of the demographic data it lays out. Granted, the book doesn't pretend to be much else, but I suppose I just couldn't believe that detailing political, demographic, and fiscal differences between young and old would be enough for a book.
As well some of the (few) attempts at conclusions seem faulty, such as suggesting that the decline in divorce rates is because marriage is now concentrated among socioeconomically well-off. I'm pretty sure that intra-demographic divorce rates also have declined (which makes sense, as women's options have widened and marriages reflect more "want" than "need").
Some of the interesting factoids: --a 20-year-old today is more like to have a living grandmother than a 20-year-old in 1900 was to have a living mother --that white people are half the population in 201 Congressional districts represented by Democrats and 75% in Republican districts --In 2011, 41% of births were to unmarried mothers, from 5% in 1960, but the teen birth rate has declined, by more than 60% from its peak in 1957 and is at its lowest level on record (since 1940). Teen mothers today account for 10% of babies, and 18% of out-of-wedlock babies --Mexican women have a lower fertility rate than Mexican-American immigrants --women with a college degree are more likely to give birth than women with a high school diploma or less, and women in their 30s give birth at a higher rate than women in their 20s(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book--it's not life-altering, of course, but it has several laugh-out-loud moments, and also some thoughtful reflections on...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book--it's not life-altering, of course, but it has several laugh-out-loud moments, and also some thoughtful reflections on our culture and values. I'd liken it to Tina Fey's memoir in that regard, except as Kaling points out, that's a fraught comparison, as if a female comedian's book can only be compared to another female comedian's.
Anyway, Kaling is genuine and likable; I already watch her show but am adding her on Twitter (our interests are different, so we'll see).
Some of my favorite excerpts, for funniness and/or social commentary: --"I went to Dartmouth to pursue my love of white people and North Face parkas." --"If you're a kid who was not especially a star in your high school, I recommend going to a college in the middle of nowhere. I got all the attention I could ever have wanted. If I had gone to NYU, right now I'd be the funniest paralegal in a law firm in Boston." --"If you think about the backstory of a typical mother character in a romantic comedy, you realize this: when 'Mom' was an adolescent, the very month she started to menstruate she was impregnated with a baby who would grow up to be the movie's likable brown-haired leading man. I am fascinated by Mom's sordid early life. I would rather see this movie than the one I bought a ticket for." --"General is short for 'general meeting,' which is one of the most vague and dreaded Hollywood inventions. It essentially means 'I am curious about you, but I don't want to have a meal with you, and I want there to be little expectations of any tangible outcome from our meeting.' Most of the time with generals, neither person knows exactly why they are meeting the other person, and so you talk about L.A. traffic patterns and which celebrities are looking to thin these days. The meetings are fun if you like chatting, which I do, but frustrating if you like moving forward with your life, which I also do. But usually you get a free bottle of water." --a cupcake story that can't really be excerpted, and same with one on her divorced friends --Since I am not model skinny, but also not super fat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall in that nebulous 'normal American woman' size that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I'm a size eight (this week, anyway). Many stylists hate that size, because I think, to them, it shows that I lack the discipline to be an ascetic or the confident sassy abandon to be a total fatty hedonist. They're like: pick a lane! Just be so enormous that you need to be buried in a piano, and dress accordingly." --"Why didn't you talk about whether women are funny or not? I just felt that by commenting on that in any real way, it would be tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn't. It would be the same as addressing the issue of 'Should dogs and cats be able to care for our children? They're in the house anyway.' I try not to make it a habit to seriously discuss nonsensical hot-button issues."(less)
I read this book based on the recommendation of Goodreads' algorithm, and was not disappointed. It's a lovely memoir by the astronomer who discovered...moreI read this book based on the recommendation of Goodreads' algorithm, and was not disappointed. It's a lovely memoir by the astronomer who discovered the tenth "planet," which made clear that Pluto never should have been a planet in the first place.
He writes in an accessible way (bordering on patronizing at times, although not usually), and I learned a lot about astronomy research; at the same time, he doesn't dwell on the esoteric aspects. Ultimately what shines through is his tremendous passion for what he does, and his earnestness is very endearing.
His most significant findings happened at the same time he was getting married and then having a baby, and the book also explores his feelings around impending fatherhood. (And, I should note, his frustration with the lack of statistics given around pregnancy. He should read Expecting Better!) He kept records of his daughter's feeding and sleeping schedule (I can identify!), and has several funny observations around this (that don't translate well to being excerpted).
He's genuine, especially in a couple instances about his daughter: --describing his appearance on Good Morning America, which was the first time his mom was able to see his daughter --"Diane and I often joke about parents who think that everything their children do is exceptional. Intellectually, we always understood that Lilah would likely be good at some things, not as good at other things. Exceptional is a pretty high bar. But reading these books about early childhood and watching Lilah develop, I finally understood. She is exceptional, because early childhood development is about the most exceptional thing that takes place in the universe. ... Who would not believe that their child is exceptional? All children are, compared to the remainder of the silent universe around them." I couldn't agree more! --when his daughter signed to him asking him to turn on the light, after a cloud covered the moon...and then signed "thank-you" after the cloud moved(less)
Where to start on this book! The premise is an interesting one--looking at changes in white America during the last fifty years, to isolate changes in...moreWhere to start on this book! The premise is an interesting one--looking at changes in white America during the last fifty years, to isolate changes in American culture writ large rather than between racial groups. However, ultimately I think this entire premise is flawed--that the end of de facto and de jure discrimination against black people is partly what drove the decline in economic outcomes for low-skill whites. And for that matter, that an increasingly integrated society might come at a cost of some neighborhood trust. Neither of these, of course, means that integration (or women's rights, which have the same consequences) were a bad thing--just that Murray's decision not to address it is ultimately methodologically flawed.
That said, he compiles lots of interesting data, and for that reason alone, I think this book is worth reading; it's not as infuriating as my criticisms below make it seem. For example: the average Harvard freshman in 1952 would have placed in the bottom 10 percent of the incoming class by 1960, as the university moved from being comprised of rich students to smart ones.
And his diagnosis of what's wrong with America--too many children born out of wedlock, too few people getting married, too few men working--is thought-provoking if not completely convincing. His suggestion on what should change, though, is not compelling at all--that the rich should preach what they practice. Really? Because social norms are set by the rich? That seems like a stretch.
Too, his criticism of the welfare state, for its inefficiency relative to direct income transfers, and for its incentive incompatibility (e.g. the rise in disability claims despite work becoming less physically taxing) is also at least somewhat compelling, especially given the troubles facing European social democracies.
He makes some factual errors: --asserting that a Neilsen rating of 34.9 corresponds to being watched by 34.9% of American homes with a television set. Instead, a 34.9 rating means that 34.9% of American homes watching television at that time were watching that program. A big difference! --suggesting Duke was an elite college before World War II (a long way from it)
And more importantly, in places where data isn't available, he basically makes it up (although he acknowledges this)--suggesting that "the new upper class" watches only a half-dozen hours of TV per week. This may be true in some circles, but I highly doubt it's true for "the new upper class" overall, given how high ratings are for sports, and how much these transcend social classes. Murray actually outright says otherwise ("sitting down in front of the TV at noon on Saturday and Sunday and watching sports for the rest of the afternoon is uncommon") in a way that's not believable without strong evidence (which he doesn't have).
The biggest issues, though, are the flaws in his logic: 1. His assertion that "upper-middle-class children dominate the population of elite schools...[because] the parents of the upper-middle class now produce a disproportionate number of the smartest children." As evidence, he presents SAT scores, which are problematic in that they also reflect environmental factors. He dismisses this with the point that "dispassionate studies of coaching show average gains of only a few dozen points," but doesn't address that this coaching comes late in life, rather than in elementary or pre-school years when educational quality differences are very influential. 2. His assertion that the increasing correlation between spouses' degrees means increasing correlation of IQs. Given that smart women didn't used to go to college, how do we know they weren't still marrying men of similar intelligence, just with a degree mismatch? 3. Dismissing the influence of the economy on men's labor force participation rates, with "white males of the 2000s were less industrious than they had been twenty, thirty, or fifty years ago." This ignores the fact that declining real wages (as was true for low-skill jobs) means that the opportunity cost of leisure has decreased. Not to mention that with the rise of computers and the Internet, the price of many leisure activities (video games, especially) has fallen dramatically. He goes on to say that "detecting changes in industriousness among American women is impossible unless you assume that a woman working at a paid job is more industrious than a full-time mother, which is not an assumption that I am willing to make." But he is quite willing to make it for men! With no evidence to back up this difference. 5. Claiming that "there is no reason to assume that the educational and occupational profiles of parolees are radically different from those of the general prison population (although the offense histories may be different)." Unless demographics are different by offense, which seems highly likely; Murray does not address this. 6. Asserting that "active involvement in church serves as a kind of training center for important civic skills." Either that or both church-going and civic skills are the result of some unobserved cause, like good social skills. 7. "It does not seem plausible (by any logic I can think of) that people who are already happy are more likely to attend worship services than unhappy people." Again, good social skills could cause both. (less)
This memoir is a quick-read, with some interesting snippets (none especially easily excerpted here) on research around child-rearing, from a sociologi...moreThis memoir is a quick-read, with some interesting snippets (none especially easily excerpted here) on research around child-rearing, from a sociologist whose other work I've also read.
Most compelling, I think, was the discussion of the extent of measurement error on intelligence when done for young children (the younger, the bigger the error). And that the main parenting approach that "works" is continued investment of time and emotion, which is both intimidating and reassuring!
Ultimately, Conley's approach to parenting is a bit too off-the-beaten-path for me (e.g. giving his kids unconventional names as a way of teaching them impulse control, because they're made fun of), but nonetheless it's thought-provoking around some of the conventional wisdom. That said, this book is more memoir than it is a thorough discussion of sociological research around parenting, and as such, is an enjoyable read but not earth shattering.
(Having given birth in a woman's hospital, where easily 95% of what they do is pregnancy-related, it is very strange to read descriptions of waiting in triage while in labor--both in this book and in Expecting Better, which I read immediately prior to this one.)(less)
At a childbirth class my husband and I went to, I asked the nurse teaching it what the range around 10 cm dilation was--how much higher or lower it co...moreAt a childbirth class my husband and I went to, I asked the nurse teaching it what the range around 10 cm dilation was--how much higher or lower it could be depending on the person. She insisted that every woman--no matter the shape or size--dilates to 10 cm. And it was like that throughout pregnancy, with tons of rules but no distributions, which was hard to take. At one point, I complained to a friend that there were no actuarial tables.
For anyone who thinks like I did, this book is a godsend; indeed, I'd even characterize it as a love letter for analytically minded pregnant (or thinking of becoming pregnant) women or their families.
The author uses her economics background to walk through how she made calculations about risk-reward, and also her research background to pore through the medical research around risks during pregnancy. The book is written with humor, interspersing her own experience during pregnancy, and despite her "fame" (in economics circles at least), she comes across as very down to earth.
Highly recommended to pregnant/TTC women and their partners. I only hope Oster writes another book about breastfeeding or child-rearing more generally. Just a wonderful addition to the very flawed set of books on the topic.
Several of my favorite excerpts: --"Pregnancy seemed to be a world of arbitrary rules. I was as if when we were shopping for houses, our realtor announced that people without kids do not like backyards, and therefore she would not be showing us any houses with backyards. Worse, it was as if when we told her that we actually do like backyards she said, 'No, you don't, the is the rule.'" --"I don't think [overly prescriptive rules, and not trusting patients' assessment of risk-reward given available information] is limited to pregnancy--other interactions with the medical system often seem to be the same way. The recognition that patient preferences might differ, which might play a role in deciding on treatment, is at least sometimes ignored. ... But, like most healthy young women, pregnancy was my first sustainted interaction with the medical system." --"The numbers were not forthcoming. I asked my doctor about drinking. She said that one or two drinks a week was 'probably fine.' 'Probably fine' is not a number." --"I wanted to know whether it mattered that I had been on the pill for 12 years. would it take longer to get back to normal? That is not what I got. What I got was best described as vague reassurance (and the ever-helpful 'Just relax!'). I thought if I pushed, I would get to the more detailed evidence, but I didn't. 'Everyone is different,' I was told. 'Yes, that is why I asked about the average,' I grumbled." --"In the 1920s, doctors identified a hormone, hCG, that is secreted in the urine of pregnant women. A test was developed based on this, but it wasn't very user-friendly. It required injecting the urine into the ear of a live rabbit that was subsequently killed and dissected." --"Why did my conclusions differ from theirs? At least two reasons. One is overinterpretation of flawed studies. But the bigger thing, I think, is the concern (which was expressed to me over and over again by doctors) that if you tell people they can have a glass of wine, they'll have 3 (or one giant 'bowl-o-wine'). Even if one isn't a problem, three are. But, to put it mildly, I'm not crazy about the implication that pregnant women are incapable of deciding for themselves--that you have to manipulate our beliefs so that we do the right thing. That feels, again, like pregnant women are not given any more credit than children would be in making important decisions." --"One phrase I kept coming across was 'no amount of alcohol has been proven safe.' ... Too much of many foods can be bad. If you have too many bananas (and I mean a LOT of bananas), the excess potassium can be a real problem. But no doctor is going around saying 'No amount of bananas have been proven safe!'" --"I weighed myself carefully every Thursday morning, before eating anything, on a correctly calibrated digital scale. I watched what I was eating. After yet another lecture, I cut out sweets. I even made Jesse monitor me and keep me from eating dessert. This is definitely not something you want to make your husband do when you are pregnant. ... But the measurements from the doctor seemed random--sometimes agreeing with me and sometimes not. Between 17 and 20 weeks I gained 4 pounds according to my measurement, and nothing according to the doctor's. Then, between 20 and 24 weeks I gained 5 pounds by my measurement and 10 pounds by hers. This led to a long lecture--10 pounds in 4 weeks! Why was I sitting in front of the television eating chocolates all day? I tried to explain that the 20-week measure must have been off, and even by her data, if you looked at the whole 17-to-24-week period I was actually doing fine. My OB listened and then put a little note in my file. I like to think that it said 'Previous measurement in error,' but it was probably more like 'Belligerent and refuses to admit cookie abuse.'" [I had the exact conversation with my doctor.] --"In 1945, Time magazine reported on a woman who claimed to have been pregnant for 53 weeks prior to giving birth to a 6 pound 15 ounce baby. It seems likely, however, that this woman suffered a miscarriage and then reconceived. Given that her husband was fighting in World War II at the time, one can imagine how a 53-week pregnancy might have been convenient." --"I also came to think a birth plan was a good idea. Ours was a bullet-pointed list (with references, naturally). Of course, the name 'birth plan' is silly. Once you have been through labor, the idea that you might have planned for it is laughable. Before Penelope was born I talked with a friend who already had two kids who said the plan should be for labor for one hour, no pain, baby slides right out. I mean, as long as you're making a plan, why not go for optimism?"
Some of the most interesting findings (I will re-read this section if/when I am pregnant again): --that truly controlled studies of the impact of television on children find no impact of TV qua TV. Of course, TV-watching correlates with other parenting behaviors that are bad for kids --that the primary study linking light drinking during pregnancy with aggressive behavior in children did not control for cocaine usage --that the studies on the impact of caffeine and coffee are likely flawed because nausea (a sign of healthy pregnancy) makes women less likely to drink coffee --that the ban on eating during labor dates to when C-sections were performed under general anaesthesia, with almost-100-year-old medical technology, and some women aspirated. Now, the risk of aspiration is exceptionally small, indeed smaller than the odds of dying in a car crash on the way to the hospital.(less)
This book offers an interesting look at the lives of several entry-level analysts in different types of roles on Wall Street. The author clearly devel...moreThis book offers an interesting look at the lives of several entry-level analysts in different types of roles on Wall Street. The author clearly developed a rapport with these new college graduates, and as a result got insight into how the various banks, roles, and careers work. On this front, the book succeeds unequivocally.
It falls short, though, in extending this insight into far-reaching implications for global capitalism, or even just for Wall Street. The author makes grandiose statements that aren't supported by the facts that he has so meticulously researched and documented. More importantly, though, he doesn't really understand the financial markets or especially the financial crisis--for example: --"Here, after all, was a group that included many of the executives whose firms had collectively wrecked the global economy in 2008 and 2009--the top executives of Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and other firms that had either failed or required billions of dollars in emergency bailout money." This is an overly simplistic view that ignores the role of the ratings agencies, outdated regulations of both the housing and financial markets, the sovereign wealth funds that were looking for returns and probably would have inflated a different bubble had housing-markets regulations been more solid, etc. --"Going into tech isn't charity work, of course, and it's possible that certain pockets of the tech world are every bit as materialistic as Wall Street firms." You think? --Conflating "Roughly 20 percent of hte Yale graduating class typically goes into business and finance" with the idea that "20 percent of...classmates might become investment bankers". The vast majority of "business" jobs have nothing to do with investment banking. --"banks like Goldman existed to make money for their shareholders, and ...any societal benefits of the work they performed were mostly a coincidence" and that deals are executed with "no regard for whether it's good or bad for humanity." This ignores the societal benefits of capitalism--creating jobs and ultimately wealth for people. Of course, efficient allocation of capital is different from financial engineering, but the author does not make that important distinction, or really, a very sophisticated argument.
As well, when considering Wall Street executives, he wonders how they evolved from being thoughtful analysts like the ones he got to know. This misses, in my view, two important selection effects--that the analysts talking to him are likely at least somewhat different (especially, more thoughtful) from those who didn't; and that the analysts who advanced to executive positions are also likely somewhat different than the broader cadre of analysts.
All told, the author is very strong in showing what entry-level Wall Street roles are like, how recruiting has evolved post-financial crisis, and the sort of existential questions that entry-level analysts grapple with. But he is weak in extending this to societal implications. If you're interested in the former (as I am), though, this book is a good read. (less)
This is a compelling story about a horse, his owner, and his trainer in 1930s America (and also, then, about 1930s sporting America). It's an enjoyabl...moreThis is a compelling story about a horse, his owner, and his trainer in 1930s America (and also, then, about 1930s sporting America). It's an enjoyable and interesting rags-to-riches story. But it's also one I thought could have been better in two primary respects: 1. Similar to In the Garden of Beasts, it's literary non-fiction, but in my opinion overly so--written as if it's building to a dramatic climax that ultimately doesn't live up to those expectations. The story is compelling on its own (albeit drawn out) and doesn't need this fiction-like dramatization. Perhaps this is unique to me, as someone who reads lots of ordinary non-fiction, and makes the book more interesting to people who usually only read fiction. 2. While this is a true story, of course, it's not told in a reporting style--the author's inferences and especially opinions are absolutely mixed in. Which is fine, of course, there won't be historical record of everything that happened 70 years ago--but I'd prefer if she were a little clearer about when she's editorializing and not.
But it's a great story, and a window into both a sport and an era I didn't know much about.(less)
This is an important, but ultimately very flawed, book. The author was the only western journalist living in Haiti when the earthquake struck in 2010,...moreThis is an important, but ultimately very flawed, book. The author was the only western journalist living in Haiti when the earthquake struck in 2010, and so has a unique perspective to describe both the quake and its aftermath to American readers.
I learned a lot about Haiti, and its institutional issues that pre-dated the earthquake--for example that the ruling Duvalier family stole as much as $800 million, and that one-sixth of Haiti's population fled during their 30-year rule.
The author's criticism of the relief effort in particular is trenchant, highlighting the extent to which it was mismanaged, and focused on saving foreigners rather than Haitians.
However, ultimately I had several major issues with the book: 1. The author's dismissal of any opinion about the relief effort or the best steps for Haiti from anyone who hasn't lived in Haiti. Development economics has much to offer, even if recommendations need to be tailored for specific markets. 2. Related, his lack of understanding of economics. For example, the premise that Paul Collier (a prominent development economist) had to plan for what would happen to Haiti if it committed to the garment industry and then wages rose. But wages don't rise intrinsically (especially in a relatively closed economy), without competition from another industry--and indeed that moving up the manufacturing value-chain is how most economies have progressed. Also, the author insists that Haiti would be better off growing lots of crops rather than focusing on mangoes, because then it would be more self-sufficient--with no acknowledgment of the well-documented/accepted economic principle of gains from trade and comparative advantage. Plenty of people are skeptical of the tenets of development economics; I don't agree with that, but can accept it. The author, though, does not even engage with these arguments. That would be fine if he were writing a book just about the relief effort, but the second half of the book is much more focused on the Haitian economy overall, which makes this ignorance of economics very frustrating. 3. The biggest problem, though, is the title of the book, which attributes the cholera epidemic in Haiti to the relief effort. The author documents that lots more foreigners came to Haiti after the earthquake, and that the Haitian hospital situation did not improve. However, the cholera epidemic, by the author's own detailed research, came from the Nepalese camp of the UN peacekeeping mission--which pre-dated the quake by years. That non-Haitians both brought cholera to Haiti and botched the relief effort are only loosely connected. Perhaps the author was pushed to making this connection in the title, I'm not sure, but I thought conflating those two things was troubling.
All of that said, the research and experience on Haiti does make this book a worthwhile read, albeit flawed and short of what it could have been. (less)
This is a both a laugh-out-loud funny and a rather serious book--a quasi-autobiography looking at various aspects of the author's life. And it's beaut...moreThis is a both a laugh-out-loud funny and a rather serious book--a quasi-autobiography looking at various aspects of the author's life. And it's beautifully crafted, as well, more like "art plus book" rather than just a book.
I admire her candor in discussing her depression, and her ongoing struggles are also apparent implicitly. As a writer and illustrator, I think her work discussing other parts of her life (especially her dogs) is better executed, but that is to be expected. I hope that writing this book ultimately helps her; regardless it's a recommended read.(less)