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Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Four hours. That was the amount of time between looking down the barrel of a gun and finding myself free along a silent highway lined by cotton fields. In the time period that seemed eternal, my unique experiences as a doctor created an indescribable bond between myself and my captor. I looked upon the situation just as I looked upon a medical emergency: I took a deep brea ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Texas Tech University Press
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Alina Puig
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. It recounts the life and journey of the author culminating with his kidnapping. I couldn’t put it down and I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I loved the intertwining of the early days of a physician’s career, the challenges and choices one faces during training, the wisdom of the “old master” William Osler and the unexpected twists and turns that follow this real life kidnapping. I loved this book and I think you will too.
Dakota Tolleson
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this book in a day! Dr. Berk does a great job intertwining his life altering kidnapping experience with his career in medicine, making this the perfect book not only for future physicians but for anyone interested in medicine or true crime!
Janet Jensen
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Anatomy of a Kidnapping; A Doctor's Story is a perfect title for this book, as its author, Steven L. Berk is a physician who responded to the events of March 6, 2005, with the instincts and skills he had honed in his many years of practicing medicine. On that day, an armed man entered his home, took him captive, and forced him into a white van. For four hours, Dr. Berk dealt with a meth-addicted felon with a history of violence who was looking for money to score more drugs.

Although the defense
Rock Angel
----- [after i quit]
A solid 1.5 stars.

I can't say i like his style. The intertwining threads of his kidnapping & medical nattering don't really mesh well, the latter constantly breaking up the momentum of the crime & wandering into aimless digressions. Some of those anecdotes are good (esp the last 2 in the "mistakes" chapter) but I wish he wud just stay focused.

By p.88, i was sure the doc had a narcissistic personality disorder (what with his showmanship & his abundant self delusions of grandeu
Megan Franks
May 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Strangely, I didn't love this book, but for some reason, I still wanted to keep reading it. Perhaps it was the fact that the event happened in my corner of the world or that the author included side trips down medical memory lane that kept me reading. Overall, I felt like the author needed to add a drop of humility to his stories. Even if he didn't mean to sound arrogant about his achievements, he sounded a bit too smug about all that he had done. ...more
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, science
I really enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t put it down! Dr. Berk worte about his abduction and other very interesting stories from practicing medicine. This book is a must read for anyone going into medicine and indiviuals who are practicing. I highly recommend this book to anyone! Also, I won this from the GoodReads giveaways and I am so glad that I did! Thanks!
Laura Jean
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A different type of true crime book, as the narrative is told from the perspective of a medical professional. He intersperses stories from his own life and career with the events of his own kidnapping.
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, family, true-crime
Berk begins the fascinating account of his own kidnapping with the theory of why the agitated gun toting kidnapper did not kill him. He feels his medical history and time he spent with patients and in hospitals may have given him some tools to fall back on when he faced death at the hands of an unstable, drug addicted man. He mentions this in an almost casual way, not in arrogance, but more puzzlement. He is thankful for living through his ordeal, but doesn’t have any doubts that it could have g ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Anatomy of a Kidnapping is a unique reflection on what it means to be a physician. Dr. Berk weaves together the suspenseful story of his abduction with other fascinating stories from a lifetime of practicing medicine.

From his time as a medical student on an Indian Reservation in Arizona, to his residency in inner city Boston, to his early career as a doctor and educator in East Tennessee, Berk shares stories that provide memorable insight into the humor, the tragedy, and the humanity that shapes
Stephen Fritz
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an exceptional read. An incredible story of how an ordinary day goes completely wrong when a violent criminal finds totally by chance an open garage door and his next victim. The editing and storytelling are exceptional, moving from moments of the crime scene, court room testimony, and the life of Dr. Berk. The reader will discover that the old expression (or some similar variation) that: "impending death tends to focus one's mind." Well, it is true. From Dr. Berk we learn that lifestyle ...more
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Three cheers for a talented local(!) author. You have inspired me Dr. Berk, thank you for sharing.
Tyler Chapman
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Berk does an amazing job of describing his kidnapping and the tools he learned throughout his entire medical career that allowed him to survive. Throughout the book, Dr. Berk speaks to incoming and current physicians about the importance of remaining calm, as well as connecting with your patients. Anatomy of a Kidnapping is a must-read for anyone pursuing a career in medicine.
Arden Perabo
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book! Dr. Berk alternates between stories from throughout his medical career and from the day of his kidnapping. It was fascinating to see the ways in which he connected his life as a doctor to being able to stay calm and survive his kidnapping. I found myself unable to put it down!
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Very analytical and Dr. Berk comes across as a very educated yet down-to-earth man that really spent a lot of time and effort in creating this. A very interesting read that also reads easily and quickly. Would highly recommend to anyone involved in the healthcare field, particularly medical students.
Taylor Weber
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a first year medical student, I could not think of a more beneficial read for the start of my career. I feel like I have been able to learn about patient encounters through someone else’s eyes. Very valuable!
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating story of a physician’s kidnapping and how his medical training helped him survive it.
Addie Pederson
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Anyone who is going into the medical field should read it!
Lauren Mcleod
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book for medical students. Offered lots of insight into provider/patient experience and how humanistic physicians grow and learn skills that help us adapt to life outside of a hospital.
Sulaiman Karim
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible read! Read it in like 9 hours
Mayra Gomez
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great read, a reminder for what it means to be a doctor as well as living life to the fullest while remembering that unpredictable events happen and what to do when they occur.
Stu Mcintire
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Steven Berk, M.D., has written a fascinating account of the 2005 kidnapping from his home in Amarillo, by embedding the narrative of that incident in episodes from his medical training and career, his family life, and trial transcripts that inform and expand effectively on the events of that day as it unfolds. My entire career has been on the periphery of physicians at work, and if you find them to be an endlessly interesting subpopulation, as I do, I recommend this book. Like many physician ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This heroic account of one man’s survival of a kidnapping due to his ability to draw on the power of aquanimitas, the ability to stay calm and rational even under conditions of extreme duress, should serve as a motivational text for all those who are at risk of such an event happening either to themselves or to someone whom they know. Dr. Steven L. Berk’s Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor’s Story gains both from a sense of immediacy, as he relates every step of the kidnapping from start to finis ...more
Mahala Church
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A captivating read, Anatomy of a Kidnapping is principally the story of a man—his successes, failures, fears, joys, parenting, and marriage. Steven Berk endured the horrors of a violent crime and participated in the subsequent trial of his kidnapper. Without his background experiences, understanding the choices Berk makes over the course of the kidnapping would be impossible. Interspersed with stories from Berk’s life that move the book beyond the events of the kidnapping, Berk shares insights i ...more
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Steven Berk, M.D., I believe, is the type of physician that you would like to consult with when you or a loved one needs the honesty, experience, respect and calmness that all doctors should strive for besides medical knowledge.

Looking back from the moment that he was threatened in his home by a man with a shotgun until he is finally back home with his family he realizes that it is his training as a physician that helped him make the many decisions and choices that he was forced to make. The re
Aug 25, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was loaned to me by a friend whose daughter is entering medical school. Dr Steven Berk, the author, spoke to their class at their white coat ceremony. He tells the story of being kidnapped from his home at gunpoint and held for several hours by a drug-addicted felon. Dr Berk credits his survival to the principle of aequanimitas: the ability to maintain calmness and coolness during difficult circumstances. Aequanimitas is the focus of a famous essay by Sir William Osler, known as one of ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I powered through this book in a single evening. This is a book that starts off at a run and never really stops. Dr Berk is a doctor who lives in my hometown and was kidnapped from his family home without his family being any wiser about the situation. His story is intertwined with stories of Dr. Berk's past in medicine and how it changed how he approached the situation with his captor.

This book is first and foremost an exploration of humanity, the fight to stay alive, and the service part of th
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. I could not put it down, reading it the night I was on call. I stayed up most of the night and I had no regrets the next day. Dr. Berk’s story and insight into medicine and what it means to have “AEQUANIMITAS” had me spellbound and wishing I could embody that persona. As a resident I found his book to be inspiring and Dr. Berk to be a role model for what a true doctor should be. His lessons on keeping his cool under pressure will serve me well in my medical career. I adm ...more
Tom Tenner,jr.
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Anatomy of a Kidnapping” – the recounting of the harrowing hours during which a physician had to use his intellect and understanding of the human psyche to preserve his own life and protect his family from a gun-wielding parolee on the run. The book parallels the event of a kidnapping with a wonderful introspection of a life-time of medical experiences and lessons learned. It reminds all of the unique life a physician is privileged to lead - one that so intimately e ...more
John Jennings
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting and true account of the random abduction of a physician. The event is discussed in such a way that the reader can understand both the motivation of fear and the thoughtful response under pressure that allowed the physican to interact with his captor and eventually gain his freedom. The book is accentuated by the clever interweaving of recalls of the physician's own past experiences, the history of the abductor, and the facts of legal testimony that provides the reader with ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Christen by: People Magazine
Shelves: non-fiction
Overall, I enjoyed this book. But I am still having a hard time deciding what to think of it. The author comes across as a very nice, humble, sincere person. But in parts of the story it's hard not to think of him as bragging. The actually story of his kidnapping is interspersed with stories of his life, mainly as a doctor, and he seems to think very highly of himself as a doctor (well-deserved). But it's weird to hear someone talk themselves up so much. But then he tells stories where he failed ...more
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Steven L. Berk, M.D., is dean of the Texas Tech School of Medicine and provost of Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. As a physician certified in infectious disease and geriatrics, Berk has treated an outstanding diversity of patients in his forty-year medical career.

His upcoming book, Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story, details how a career as a physician prepared him for the most dangerous

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