My Own Country: A Doctor's Story
My Own Country: A Doctor's Story

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Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, the town of Johnson City saw its first AIDS patient in August 1985. Working in Johnson City was Abraham Verghese, a young Indian doctor specializing in infectious diseases who became, by necessity, the local AIDS expert. Out of his experience comes a startling, ultimately uplifting portrait of the American heartland.

Customer Reviews:

  • riveting, intense and extremely truthful
    Dr. Abraham Verghese is literature's loss and medicine's gain. As my like-minded friends said, he should have been a writer. Written in an intensely personal, lucid and beautifully structured style, the book unfolds everything associated with a new disease like AIDS and the trauma of the people and society affected by it. He is an outstanding counsellor, a superlative medical practitioner and a terrific writer. He is truthful, honest and stylish. Hailing from his homestate, Kerala, and living in the city (Madras) where he used to move around in an old Java motorbike at least for a while, I am so sad that a genuine book like his did not get the recognition or publicity (good or bad,that's another issue) cornered by Arundhthi Roy. In comparison to the Malayalam writers, whose milieu Ms. Roy shares in her book, God of Small Things is absolute trash. But My Own Country is a gem. It is genuine, honest and a beautiful piece of art....more info
  • Deeply Moving
    I read the last page (and many other passages) of the book through welled-up tears. Verghese's incredible blend of personal, professional and epidemiological history never loses sight of the human realities behind the cliched signifiers of AIDS. This book is a tribute to his patients' and his own courage, and an indictment of those who would treat AIDS as somebody else's disease....more info
  • My Own Country, my home town.
    This book is an amazing way to discover the hardships that those must over come who are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. I am from Johnson City, TN. As a part of a clinical I was doing in high school we were given many options of books to read for a grade, this was one. I was drawn to it because hey, this was my home town. But what I got from this book overcame everything I had expected.

    I wept reading this book. It is amazing how you get to know Dr. Verghese and his patients. You, in a way, experience their hardships and triumps, even the families loss. He explains word for word the exhausting battle of finding out and forming a plan of action. He puts you into the realization of these individuals and what they felt. You begin to morn their loosing battles and celebrate in their strength in recovery.

    He discribes this area of Tennessee with such effortless ease. It's beauty struck with something so horrid. Reading the book I forgot that this was my home, the people in it were people of my town. For a nieve high school student it made me realize that no matter what the year was this was real and it was here in my own back yard. "My Own Country."

    I learned more than just about the people or about the land but the medical terminology was explained and he made you the reader understand what it meant to him and the world of medicine. Each detail will make you feel like you are right there in the ER of the "Miracle Center".

    There were times I just could not put this book down. I have read it three times now and I am starting my fourth. The stories in this book of the patients are tragic. Anyone who has any type of preconceived notion of what it is like to have AIDS/HIV or what "kind of people" have AIDS/HIV should read this book. It will open your eyes to a whole new world.

    This story of our small town, as it was then, has reached all over the world. It has inspired and educated everyone who has read it. I'm sure that it still means a great deal to the families of those in it.

    AIDS will always be scary, it will always be something that will cause pain and horror to our ears, this book describes a small town with prejudice of it's own before a time of AIDS and how it conforms to another way of thinking. Just like in this book, not everyone will ever be accepting of those who contract this disease but everyone will be made aware of it.

    I suggest this book to any reader with any reading taste. You will walk away with much more than what you came with. You will get to know our people and their stories from the mind of a man who knew them all. Abraham Verghese was brilliant in writing this collection of lives on paper. Thank you Dr. Verghese for letting their voices be heard all over the world and inspiring those who take time to indulge in your brilliance....more info

  • An Important Chronicle...
    Dr. Verghese's depiction of AIDS in Johnson City is a powerful book about the way this disease first entered the American consciousness. As an outsider - an Indian doctor in the Midwest - writing about his experiences with the gay community and others who were first diagnosed with HIV and AIDS provides a unique perspective into the way people ostrasized and condemned, often in the name of God, those who were first diagnosed. One reviewer commented that the book is dated, but in fact, Verghese's account remains an important one as it not only describes a disease that has shaped and continues to shape our collective consciousness, but is also applicable for the way it reminds us how terrible we can be when faced with an unknown and how easy it can be to attack those we don't understand.

    What Verghese does so well is provide a human aspect to almost everything he writes about. I, too, read the Tennis Partner before reading this, and I think the way he is able to juxtapose his own family life and the way it slowly disintegrates, while at the same time doing so much to keep other families together btoh physically and spiritually is remarkable. The individual cases he describes are so vivid and truly provides a face to the diease.

    I highly reccomend this book to anyone considering the health profession (along with his other book the Tennis Partner and Gawunde's Complications) as well as people who are curious about infectious disease and its impacts upon society....more info
  • Chronicling the transformative power of both fear and love
    My Own Country : A Doctor's Story by ABRAHAM VERGHESE ostensibly chronicles the appearance of AIDS in the rural burgh of Johnson City, TN in the mid 80's, and in fact the book does chronicle that event. However, this book is far less about AIDS than it is about the human condition in general and, more specifically, the transformative powers of both fear and love.

    I had previously read Dr. Verghese's The Tennis Partner, an excellent book that shares some critical threads with this effort. In both books Verghese, an Indian from India, effectively portrays both the problems as benefits associated with being a foreign doctor in America--the former being the prejudices that accrue to those who had the perceived misfortune to be born in the third world and the freedom that being an "outsider" brought to the patient-doctor relationship.

    The Tennis partner was a fictional work with obvious significant autobiographical undertones. This book is clearly an autobiographical work of nonfiction that benefits considerably from Verghese's previous work within a fictional realm. Verghese writes very well and he uses his quite considerable talents to render a moving, suspenseful and insightful book.

    These being a medical autobiography, a fair amount of fairly detailed, turgid technical aspects are a part of the package. That is the only genuine criticism I can make. Other than that, the book is a fascinating, engaging, highly moving account of human misery, death and, ultimately, triumph.

    This is one of the best books I've read this year. Definitely a 5 star effort.
    ...more info
  • Unforgettable
    "My Own Country" is an unforgettable and deeply moving account of AIDS in the small city of Johnson City, Tennessee. Extraordinarily well written, with countless memorable characters it succeeds on so many different levels. In helping to break the continued stereotypes of southern Appalachia as well as putting a human face on AIDS, Dr. Verghese has done a great public service. It is a brilliant first book, and a very vital and important story....more info
  • My Own Country: A Doctor's Story
    This book has excellent insite to the challenges of people with HIV. Great read!...more info
  • One of the best memoirs I've ever read
    With the eye, ear and voice of a novelist and with the compassion of a healer, Dr. Abraham Verghese has taken his experiences as "the AIDS doctor" of east Tennessee and turned them into an incredible memoir. This is one of the most touching and engrossing books I've read in years.

    When Verghese landed in Johnson City, Tennessee in 1985, he came as a newly-accredited infectious diseases specialist to treat veterans, most of whom had lung cancer and emphysema, and to spend one day a week in the town medical center he learned to call the "Miracle Center". When the center's first AIDS patient entered the hospital, it was the beginning of the plague which would soon extend across the country, not just in the big city locales where the majority of homosexual men and drug abusers lived. They were coming home to die.

    Because the young doctor had a strong desire to help and an ability to tolerate the differences of others, he gradually found himself almost obsessed with caring for his patients. He loved them as people, and as they began to die, he mourned. They were on his mind constantly, even when he was home with his beautiful wife and small sons to the point where his marriage and the center of his home became endangered by his devotion to a setting and to people which excluded them.

    This book is so beautifully written I could not put it down. Each patient became fully alive for me, thanks to Verghese's ability to describe them, and I, too, mourned them as they passed. This is a memoir I will not soon forget. Poignant in its humanity, staggering in the scope of its tragedy, it will remain Verghese's monument to Tennessee and the people he came to love in all their variety.

    Wonderful book....more info

  • My Own Country: A Doctor's Story
    This is an excellent story. It is an interesting and informative read....more info
  • Physician & Philosopher, Dr. V. illumines Aides' human face
    Having read Dr. Verghese's Tennis Partner first, I wanted to read his first book as well. And then I wanted to read another book with his signature of insight, tenderheartedness, depth of understanding in the practice of medicine. There was no other to be found. What he is able to do in this human history of the appearance of Aides in a rural city, far from the places where Aides originally tallied high mortality rates, is to make you look again at who has the disease, what toll is takes on those who love them, and the very particular social structure in which they find themselves. He tells us, as well, about the culture of the hospital in its attitude toward the patients and he the physician in his treatment of the increasing numbers who seek his care--healing he cannot bring, but care in abundance. Best of all, he shares himself with us--as he did in the Tennis Partner. To expose oneself this way takes great courage. And that is what I like best about Dr. Verghese--his courage. Please continue to write, Dr. V., about the things which matter most. Thank you....more info
  • A gem of a book! Honest, heart-warming, elegantly written.
    This is one of the best books I've read from a contemporary author. Verghese writes elegantly and with searing honesty about the AIDS patients he encountered as a young immigrant in small town America. So much has been written about his wonderful writing style and his compassion and humanity as a doctor...and I agree with all of that. I was especially interested in how he describes the gay experience as being analagous to the foreign immigrant experience in America. Both groups gain sustenance from their communities; both groups long for acceptance from the mainstream. It's interesting that the author's desire for assimilation is greater than his need to identify with the local Indian community. This book succeeds on every level. You gain insights into the life of the gay community, Indian immigrants, the medical community, and most of all the emotional and mental state of the man who describes it all. Thank you Doctor Verghese for this great book!...more info
  • Tells an important story, but is too dated for 2006 readers
    I love to read medical non-fiction, about doctors, nurses and their experiences in the world of medicine. Since I was a fan of Verghese's work from The Tennis Partner, I picked this book up with a lot of enthusiasm.

    This book tells a quietly tragic and compelling story about the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and Verghese's personal experiences and feelings as he treats his first AIDS patients. The writing is clear and he is great at observing the small details in life that make you feel like you are living the story.

    Unfortunately, the story doesn't feel current anymore. The perspective that Verghese has is still very valuable, but in 2006 the book is more valuable for understanding the history of the disease than it is for understanding the current reality for those dealing with HIV/ AIDS.

    He does an amazing job chronicling the incredible stigma and difficulties faced by those with the disease, and the attitudes that were common then about AIDS and homosexuality. But our culture, medicine, and treatment of HIV/ AIDS have all changed so drastically since the eighties that this book really is better as a look backwards at how things used to be than it is a current look at the treatment and care people with AIDS experience now.

    I hope Verghese writes more, because he is a powerful writer with some amazing stories to tell. I think this book has an important place in our cultural library, but if you are looking for a book to help you understand how people with AIDS live nowadays, you would be better off looking elsewhere.

    ...more info
  • Haunting, yet still disappointing
    My introduction to Dr. Verghese came through his second book, The Tennis Partner, which I found it to be one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. As soon as I finished, I bought a copy of My Own Country and started reading. And, I am sorry to say, I found it to be vastly inferior.

    This reads like an author's first book - excellent in spots, but generally uneven. Verghese hadn't yet discovered his authorial voice, and the stories here veer from enthralling to puzzling.

    It is an interesting book in the fact that it is the true story of one doctor's experiences with the explosion of AIDS in a midsized, semi-rural town. And many of the patient stories he relates are heartbreaking. But there is a basic lack of cohesiveness that permeates the story. Good, but disappointing....more info

  • An excellent personal account of the emergence of AIDS
    In "My Own Country" Dr. Abraham Verghese tells the story of the emergence of AIDS in rural Tennessee from his perspective as a new foreign doctor. In the process of describing the increased presence of the disease in his community, Dr. Verghese also tells the personal stories of his patients as well as his own story - how working with the disease opens his mind to new perspectives as well as the toll it places on him personally. The author's narrative style is compassionately captivating, managing to entertain and inform at the same time. I'd highly recommend it for those seeking to learn more about what being a good doctor is like or about the difficulties faced by those that had to deal with the disease in its emergent era....more info
  • AIDS has a face
    If there ever was doubt about the human side of the AIDS virus, My Own Country by Abraham Verghese will put this to rest. Written in an intensely personal way, Dr. Verghese shares the stories of his first AIDS patients in rural Johnson City, Tennessee. These patients include an older man who contacts the virus from a blood transfusion at Duke during open heart surgery, to a truck driver whose lonely rondevous at the local truck stop comes back to haunt him and his family. These patient's hopes, dreams, fears and ultimately their deaths live in Dr. Verghese's prose. He paints a picture of life and death with AIDS that crosses lines of class, race, sexuality and should strike remorse into the heart of anyone who believes that AIDS is the scourge of "queers and other social degenerates." God help us all...more info
  • A Doctor's Love for his Patients
    This based-on the author's true-story details the time he was just starting out as a doctor. He picked a Hospital in smalltown United States where he would be the infectious disease specialist. Suddenly, cases of AIDS appeared even in that small town. It was the 80's epidemic and as it spread from the big cities AIDS victims were met with fear and a lack of compassion from most doctors. Verghese was one of the few who truly listened to and cared for his patients through such a terrible disease. ...more info
  • Plague Years
    Dr. Verghese becomes totally absorbed in his patients and their families lives as AIDS hits a large area of Appalachia, and he's transformed by the experience. Beautifully written, especially about the lives and deaths of his patients. Strongly recommended for anyone interested or involved in AIDS and medical stories. ...more info
  • Heroism
    This book was highly recommended by a friend/colleague. In fact he generously lent me his copy. The stories in this book are all real sad life stories. The images of each patient encounters are still very vivid on my mind and they all left big scars in my heart. It literally tore my heart apart when I read through the painful description of their sufferings till their last breath. They reminded me of the deficiency of our health care system (a big agenda item awaiting the next president-elected to tackle, if at all possible. we know it won't happen during this presidency for sure when the nation's focus is put on "war" and "combat"). There is so much more we, especially the health care professionals, can, should and must do to care for those who are tormented by ailments (both curable and incurable.) On the one hand, it saddened me to realize how ignorance, prejudice and selfishness of mankind can tear us apart. On the other hand it gave me hope knowing that there is always someone, like Dr. Verghese, who is heroic, selfless and willing to sacrifice for those who suffer. He is the perfect role model for all those who dedicate their life to health care. ...more info
  • Almost too long to be effective.
    My Own Country is a tough book to read. There are so many stories of people struggling to live in the early years before there were any treatments to make living with HIV at all possible. There's also the growing despair of the author as he sees the disease spreading through his rural town and of course across the globe and not having anything he can do beyond diagnosing the disease and treating the opportunistic diseases that attack his patients.

    By about page 250 I began to grow numb from the overload off all the personal stories. The book as well begins to ramble a bit but I can fully understand why Dr. Verghese chose to leave for a less stressful job....more info

  • The author teaches about living by sharing about dying.
    Abe Verghese is a warm fellow and he writes with a sense of mission and responsibility, eager to share with people the will to a meaningful life. Maybe it's those who are faced with death that can tell us how to really live, how to overlook those things that don't matter too much. Abe has found his niche. His compassion is real and he writes in a way to preserve the dignity of the person, lifting up the ordinary as something extraordinary in today's UNoridinary world. I know these things about Abe to be true because he tells the story about my own family in the book. My parents were Will and Bess Johnson, and by telling our story, he's been able to share with a lot of other people the important lessons my parents taught me and my brothers about dying, but more importantly about living. Will, Jr....more info
  • Outstanding
    This book chronicles the life and experiences of an infectious disease doctor in rural Tennessee during the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. The book is part history, part personal commentary, & part "portrait into a doctor's life". The involvement and compassion the doctor had with and for his patients was remarkable...a moving read. I suspect that this book is powerful enough to change a future clinician's perspective on what it means to practice medicine, that is, the book breathes life back into the patient as a person - not just a disease, or symptom, or infection. Truly a great read. ...more info
  • Killing AIDS prejudice
    I read this book when it first came out, and I even was lucky enough to attend a reading by the author in a rural bookstore of North Carolina, which was a perfect setting for a reading from a book whose locale is the rural areas East of North Carolina. I even had the book signed, the things you do sometimes...

    It is a truly beautiful book. If not great litterature, it is certainly a well written memoir that reads like a novel. But it is not fiction. One sees the progressive changes in the mood of the Doctor as his sense of duty slowly but surely affect his work and his family life.

    But most important of all, if this book does not cure you from AIDS prejudice, nothing will....more info

  • A New Look at AIDS
    My Own Country is Abraham Verghese's unique recount of his experience fighting AIDS at the dawn of the epidemic. Like other infectious disease specialists, Verghese is immediately immersed in AIDS, and it soon dominates his profession. the author traces the penetration of the disease as the city comes to grips with AIDS and its unwanted victims. Often without the support of his colleagues and family, Verghese treats an ever increasing number of patients. Including the estranged brother of a colleague, a gay couple intent on breaking it`s taboo, and man and his wife who contract AIDS through a contaminated blood transfusion. Though this memoir, Verghese reveals his own confusions about homosexuality, and wrestles with the his own sympathy for his patients and the prejudices of his colleagues. As one of his nurses says "'I don't think we should have bothered in the first place...he deserved what he got and I don't see why we should have to take care of him.'"
    Verghese can become wearisome in his consistent use of the term "miracle center" to describe his workplace and tends to drone on at many points, becoming unnecessarily detailed when writing about the specifics in his work and family life which somewhat take away from his insights. Also, Verghese's family is obviously important to him, and he hints time and time again at problems with his wife, however he never fully develops their relationship. "My work with AIDS in the community fell into this chasm between us. AIDS was like another wild friend, a friend from a different social stratum, a friend I indulged but no longer brought to the house or even discussed with her." Despite this, the author tells a terrific, unforgettable story of the not only the lives and feelings of the patients, but everyone it affects.
    ...more info
  • A disappointing exercise in egocentrism.
    Having enjoyed some of Verghese's essays, I looked forward to My Own Country. But I was disappointed by the clumsy writing and the lack of cohesiveness. And I was irritated by his persistent focus on his own feelings while faced with the tragic stories of his patients. So often in the book, he relates some terrible anecdote and then goes on to say how it reminds him of his own situation--which, of course, is utterly absurd. The value of the book lies in the stories of the AIDS patients, and I'm left wishing that Verghese had made this book more of a "patients' story" than a "doctor's story."...more info
  • Compassion and medincine in balance
    After my brother was treated like a leper in a hospital when the staff found out he had AIDS- it was in the early 80's- I found this book. Not only is Dr. V an excellent writer, he documents the problems well, he also can understand the human factor in terminal diseases. I was so moved by his book that I wrote to him and he graciously replied.My Own Country is a testament to how good doctors can be when they are savvy and care....more info
  • I haven't loved a book this much in a long time.
    Above all, Abraham Verghese is an excellent writer!! He tells the story of a unique epoch in history, when AIDS was new. It is a testament to his skills, both as a writer and as a doctor, that he is able to tell such a sad story with such beauty and such grace. This is excellent and important reading....more info
  • Story of an immigrant dr. and AID's is fascinating .
    This is not the typical emotionally manipulative book about a young doctor as the AID's hero. Dr. Verghese writes a sincere account of a young immigrant facing challenges to become a licensed doctor in the US. His candor about his family, abount how he chose infectious diseases as his specialty and about the earliest days of AID's made me feel as though I personally knew him and his patients. With so many books to read, this one is worth the time....more info
  • Damn good book
    I am from the area he speaks of in the book. It is a powerful story and is correct event to the smallest degree. A really wonderful book. Puts many faces to the epidemic...more info
  • My Own Country
    This is a frankly written history of the author's experiences with the coming of HIV to a small southern town (the author is an infectious diseases expert). Very interesting and easy to read....more info
  • This account of the early days of AIDS rings true.
    As a physician who was just finishing training when AIDS burst on the scene in the 80's, the panic and fear among medical staff described in this book are actually tame to what I saw in my hospital. I am one of those "who would, " as Dr. Verghese categorized those who would or would not care for HIV infected patients, and this truly separated us from the vast majority of those at that time who let their fear rule over their intellect. Dr. Verghese tells this exciting story with great compassion for his patients and their families, and it is clear that his emotional connection to them, which is stongly discouraged in medical training, came at great personal cost. As someone who now lives and practices in East Tennessee, I feel he accurately described the people, the culture, and the region's great beauty. His yearning to fit in--to have a home--is poignantly obvious throughout the book even as he becomes more and more isolated from his family and his collegues. Several of my collegues trained under or worked with Dr. Verghese during this time, and they all attest to his brilliance as a diagnostician, his great empathy for his patients, his nonjudgemental approach to the gay lifestyle, and his decency and approachability as a person. This book, in their opinions, is an accurate portrayal of the AIDS story in the rural setting. I am drawn to medical writing, particularly when written by physicians themselves, and Dr. Verghese is a master. This book moved me to tears as the deaths of all of these patients began to add up toward the end of the book, and one can't help but to feel the great waste of life that this virus causes. As a hospice medical director, I was also touched by Dr. Verghese's struggle to understand the process of dying, moving from his all-out attempts to save lives at the beginning of the book to his hospice-oriented approach toward the end. This is a masterful telling of how AIDS affects everyone -- patients, families, and doctors alike....more info
  • Couldn't put it down.
    I happened across this book and was immediately drawn into it. The author is a remarkable human being with deep empathy and sympathy with some of the first casualties of the AIDS epidemic. As a Tennessee native, this story was very interesting to me; it chronicles the spread of the disease not long after the disease was recognized. The personal stories of all concerned are engrossing, and it's heartbreaking because in those early days the medical profession had nothing to offer the sufferers--and suffer they surely did, regardless of how they contracted the disease, and the book includes stories of those who got it through blood transfusions. The human connections between this Indian doctor who was born in Ethiopia and the people of east Tennessee, made at the most basic level, are what makes this book powerful; yet the author does not excuse his own shortcomings which eventually led to the failure of his marriage. I couldn't put it down and finished it in about 3 days - and then immediately got his other book, The Tennis Partner. (Another reviewer said this is fiction - but it's nonfiction. I found it in the biography section of the public library.)...more info
  • An Outsider Looking In
    Dr. Verghese is an East Indian physician who, for a time, practiced medicine in a small Tennessee town. His specialty was working with AIDS and HIV infected patients. He examines himself from the perspective of an outsider. He is from a different culture than virtually all the of the population surrounding him. He works with a sub-group of patients that are not welcomed in this very rural area and are often closeted. The attitudes of the town's population towards him are very questionable because they find it difficult to accept the the nature of his practice. All of this creates difficulty for the author and he finds himself more and more distant from his family.

    The book is written in a series of vignettes about Dr. Verghese's patients along with his concomitant feelings and thoughts about them and the particular personal and medical situations they are facing. ...more info
  • Well-written non-fiction
    This book was well-written from a compassionate doctor's viewpoint. The subject matter, although very sad, was (and still is) largely overlooked by a majority of urbanites who may have dealt with the same circumstances.
    Tragic but uplifting.
    ...more info
  • A compelling journey into the heart of the AIDS epidemic.
    Few books can transport the lay reader into the center of an epidemic with such honesty, compassion and intelligence as MY OWN COUNTRY. As a specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Verghese describes the unexpected and insidious advance of the HIV virus into a small Tennessee town. By taking us into the hearts and homes of the victims and their families, he paints an unforgettable portrait of the emotional and physical impact of this epidemic while helping us to understand the intricacies of the many ways AIDS attacks the body andd mind of its victims. More than their physician, Dr. Verghese becomes friend, confidant and healer of both body and spirit to his patients and their loved ones. With painful candor, he also details the terrible personal price he and his family are forced to pay because of his dedication. While displaying both grace and compassion, Dr. Verghese surprises the reader with his talent for lyrical description and his ability to see beyond the technical perimeters...more info
  • A Wonderful Medical Drama
    There is out there a growing field of medical fiction; that is, books authored by literature doctors about their patients' stories. This is a compelling read about AIDS in an East Tennessee town, one where the doctor knows he's not God, and in many ways, is just as confused as his AIDS patients. We at once see a country grappling with how to handle an epidemic, a town trying to overcome their phobias, and a doctor trying to make a difference while balancing his work and his family.

    Dr. Verghese writes with finese and does not miss a beat. This is a true novel, compelling through and through, and raises important themes about finding your place in the world and alternatives to the elusive American dream. Do not miss this fantastic piece of medical literature....more info
  • An easy read into the mind of an outsider.
    Not only does this book provide a limited look at Aids in a small community, but gives us an idea of the mind of a foreign doctor's prejudice towards what he sees as a backwards area of the USA. I am a native of Johnson City, TN, the location of his medical practice described in this book. I was raised here, left in 1979 and traveled extensively till returning in 1995. I too view my home town with a certain amount of detachment and objectiveness, which leads to a bit of embarrassment and distain. Yes, the rural parts of this mountainous area are full of the old ways. Our mountains provide isolation from new ideas and changes to our regional dialect. But we all are not so ignorant as he would have you believe. Johnson City has a university and a medical school. I enjoyed reading about my home town, the locations and streets of which I am familiar, BUT the attitude of superority in the doctors narrative is beyond condensending and is more insulting to the members of this city of over fifty thousand. The editors must have deleted part of his origonal title " My Own Country is Better Than Yours". Doctor, go back to India and tell us how the "have nots" live there, and Please limit your insults to YOUR own country....more info
  • Well written
    This is one of the best books I have read from an Indian author. The book is haunting in its description of the AIDS disease and compassionate as well. By the end of the book, I found myself wondering about the various characters and how many of them are still surviving. The description of the disease and the death that resulted from it was so graphic that it left a haunting impression on me. Reading this book gave me a new appreciation for all the research done in trying to overcome this disease.

    As an immigrant Indian living in the States, I found the description of the Indian life style very accurate and amusing. Dr. Verghese, if you are as good a doctor as you are a writer, I think your patients are fortunate to have you as their physician....more info

  • A compassionate doctor confronts the HIV epidemic
    As a doctor, I rarely enjoy books about physicians because they simply don't show the reality of our lives.
    Unlike the soap opera sexuality and black humor (and ridicule) in many medical best sellers, Dr. Verghese writes a the simple tale of a doctor and his patients, told with quiet compassion and an eye for the small details of human experience.
    He tells of the daily fight to keep people alive. And he tells the story of how ordinary Americans confront this new disease with courage.
    Too often, Southern Americans are portrayed as bigoted religious homophobes by the literati. His stories of how the close knit families confront and accept their dying sons and husbands.
    And he tells of the common --but rarely discussed-- story of immigrants. This a story I see in my own family, where one person comes, and then is joined by friends and family, and soon a thriving immigrant community invigorates the small towns of middle America.
    Finally, he shows the strains of practicing medicine in the context of a daily life.
    Most of the reviews paint this as a book about HIV, and it is.
    But it is a book about families, about culture, and especially about the life of ordinary physicians who daily confront the struggle against sickness and mortality.
    I would recommend it to anyone thinking of joining the medical profession....more info
  • A beautifully written, charming book
    As a native of the part of Tennessee in which the stories in this book took place, I found Verghese's descriptions and perceptions of the people and places he encountered during his stay in Johnson City entertaining and endearing (Made me rather homesick!). After reading this book, as well as articles Dr. Verghese has written for the New Yorker, I believe he genuinely is as com- passionate as he seems in these pages. He is a gifted writer, a wonderful clinician, and should be recognized as one of our national treasures! He has taken some very sad stories and told them carefully, with the dignity of the patient (and his/her family) at the forefront....more info
  • This is one of the best books I have ever read.
    Dr. Verghese has done us all a service, not only in his extraordinarily sane treatment of AIDS patients in rural Tennessee in the early '80s, when people, mainly young men, were coming home from the larger cities to die, but in his open acknowledgment of his own sense of displacement--as an Indian born in Africa, following his love of medicine to Johnson City, Tennessee (and later to El Paso, Texas). He is an inspiration to all of us who feel displaced in the world....more info
  • Beautifully written and fascinating.
    Abraham Verghese is first and foremost a wonderful writer. His prose is poetric; his sentences carefully crafted. His voice flows in a powerfully intimate river of words. READ THIS BOOK! You will learn about AIDs, you will learn about East Tennessee, and you'll learn about Dr. Verghese. He is an introspective, precious human being who wishes more than anything to make everyone happy and whole. I am also from Johnson City and only wish that I had run into Abe sometime down at QBs or Poor Richards. Maybe he'd read my writing......more info
  • Needs to be read by everyone
    Having lost a son to AIDS and living in the South, I wondered about other cases and how the other patients had died. This book puts faces on AIDS cases and makes me better understand what I went through. My son died in a big city and his suffering was probably less than the ones who had to come home to die. An excellent book that should be read by everyone....more info


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