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

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Tracy Kidder is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, Among Schoolchildren, and Home Town. He has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” This powerful and inspiring new book shows how one person can make a difference, as Kidder tells the true story of a gifted man who is in love with the world and has set out to do all he can to cure it.

At the center of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. This magnificent book shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable, and it also shows how a meaningful life can be created, as Farmer—brilliant, charismatic, charming, both a leader in international health and a doctor who finds time to make house calls in Boston and the mountains of Haiti—blasts through convention to get results.

Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that "the only real nation is humanity" - a philosophy that is embodied in the small public charity he founded, Partners In Health. He enlists the help of the Gates Foundation, George Soros, the U.N.’s World Health Organization, and others in his quest to cure the world. At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope, and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”: as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.

“Mountains Beyond Mountains unfolds with the force of a gathering revelation,” says Annie Dillard, and Jonathan Harr says, “[Farmer] wants to change the world. Certainly this luminous and powerful book will change the way you see it.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • Mountains beyond Mountains
    This is an excellent example of what medicine should be. Dr. Paul Farmer is a brilliant physician who has dedicated his life to helping the poor. Instead of taking his high salary and living the good life he chose to life a very modest life. Most of the money that he makes is used to help people that are less fortunate. As a matter of fact, his staff thinks that he is one of the hardest working poor people out there. Just reading about his frequent travels from Haiti to Boston, to Peru, to Russia and back makes you wonder where he gets his energy from. It seems as long as he knows that there is somebody that needs help he will do whatever it takes. To me that is true commitment and Dr. Farmer is a very rare breed of human being. If we could all take a few lessons from him, the world would be a better place....more info
  • Mountains beyond Mountains
    Interesting book, learned many things about strife in Haiti, medical woes and one persons fight against TB. Book was a bit repetitious, could have been shorter and still gotten the meaning/message across. ...more info
  • One person can make a difference
    This is a great overview of the story of Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health and Harvard-trained infectious disease doctor, who has dedicated much of his professional life toward providing health care for the "disposable" people of the world in Haiti, Peru, Russia, and more recently in Rwanda. As some reviewers have commented on, Farmer's story can be a bit overwhelming. Not many people have the talent, focus and determination necessary to accomplish what he has. However, the message I believe we should take away from Farmer's accomplishments is not one of being overwhelmed by either the poverty that Farmer works to combat or by Farmer's heroic efforts. Rather, this story should confirm for us that each of us can make a difference, if we only try. Indeed, if more of us worked to alleviate the brutal and relentless poverty under which more than 3 billion people on our planet subsist, the seemingly superhuman efforts of Paul Farmer might not be necessary. Beyond this book, I strongly recommend Farmer's own writings, in particular Pathologies of Power. For the Farmer disciple, a visit to Zanmi Lasante in Cange, Haiti, is highly recommended, as it is truly an oasis of hope in a seemingly endless desert of poverty. As you walk through the portal in the high rock wall that surrounds Zanmi Lasante, you can see firsthand all that one person can do, imagery on a scale that defies even the eloquent writing of Mr. Kidder....more info
  • Time to give back
    This is a difficult book to review because there are conflicting messages. I participated in a blog discussion at the University of Washington on this book, and it left some students with a sense of hopelessness: that all the money they were spending in tuition was being wasted when it should have gone to truly needy people. Another commented that the students should at least focus on learning a skill before they tried to help others. The problem was that Tracy Kidder in awe put Farmer on such a high pedestal that it is hard for the average person to relate.

    In the book we learn immediately that Farmer had taken the time to learn the local Creole dialect to communicate with his patients - and that is admirable. But Kidder keeps pedantically putting this in our face as though, by halfway through the book, we should all know Creole. We got the point the first time. There's an unusual episode where Kidder marvels about Dr. Farmer walking five hours into the mountains just to see if someone is taking their pills. On the other hand, I wonder how many people Dr. Farmer could have seen and treated in clinic during that time? And then there is his wife and son.... growing up alone in Paris. How many times has his son looked over to the sidelines of a soccor field or some school event to see if his dad was watching....

    So there seems to be a naive disconnect between the actual consequences of Dr. Farmer's chosen life style and Kidder's unrealistic awe. On the bright side, the book has been a sensation, and in fact that is very good. It is very good because it is raising awareness of our need as the richest country in the world to "give back." But the readers of this book need not feel futile that they could never measure up. There are already thousands of people and doctors like Paul Farmer in this world who give up their security and comfort to give back. Operation Smile, Orthopedics Overseas, Doctors Without Borders.... and on and on. More important, we don't have to go to Haiti just to give back. The chance is here and now in everyday life: a kind word to a stranger, a smile, a small courtesy, an unexpected helping hand. If each person that read Mountains Beyond Mountains did just one unexpected act of kindness each day, the ripple effect of this would engulf the world.

    Pierce Scranton Jr. M.D.
    author, "Death on the Learning Curve"...more info
  • Way beyond
    I've have about 80 pages to go but I'm thoroughly enjoying this tale. Dr. Farmer is a most unusual man, so compassionate, so effective and so interesting in his habits and insights. Kidder has structured the story beautifully. As a kid I read Albert Switzer's autobiography and Farmer is his modern equivalent. Mountains Beyond Mountains is so compelling, so moving I think it cries out for a movie version, which one would hope Hollywood couldn't ruin. Expect to captivated, enthralled and more than a little angry as you read MBM....more info
  • Great Writer writes of a great man

    Dr. Paul Farmer is a rare character: a genius whose infinite compassion drives him to lalbor around the clock and around the world to find ways to cure drug-resistant tuberculosis and AIDS in the most primitive of conditions in such places as Haiti and Russian prisons. This rare man deserves a rare bographer, and he has him in Tracy Kidder who spent years of his life in tracking Dr. Farmer and then writing an admiring but not fawning biography. This improbable life all rings true. ...more info
  • Solving the World's Big Problems
    I haven't read Tracy Kidder since The Soul of a New Machine which I loved. Obviously that was a mistake. This book is excellent and its subject, inspiring: the life and work of Paul Farmer makes me believe that all the big problems of the world would be soluble if people had attitudes similar to his--and that he's capable of infecting anyone who gets anywhere near him, maybe even just reading this book. People don't of course generally have Farmer's attitudes, but still he has accomplished much by a relatively simple philosophy--that it's wrong (and unnecessary) for there to be desperately poor people in the world. For him that translates into bringing top notch medical care to every citizen of the planet. He thought that could be done without the usual rationale for how to help the poor: doing the greatest good for the greatest number with the resources you have. Farmer's biggest success was convincing the medical world that they were wrong in thinking the best way to fight TB was to concentrate on drug programs for those with TB which could be cured by the most common (read "inexpensive") drugs and ignoring (i.e. leaving to die) those with MDR (multi drug resistant TB) which needed careful diagnosis to figure out which combination of very expensive drugs were necessary. In Farmer's world view, every person on the planet deserved the same medical care; he was impervious to anyone who tried to suggest to him that that wasn't "practical". In the MDR case, he found a test site in Peru and proved his point, not the least of which was that if the world left the MDR cases went untreated, it would facilitate the spread of the most dangerous kind of TB. Farmer also thinks there's no population with AIDS that does not deserve to be treated with the latest drugs. Along the way he's brought dying children from Haiti to Boston for treatment and cures, and brought open-heart surgery to the poorest part of Haiti. The organization he founded, Partners in Health, perpetrates his messianic philosophy of medicine.
    Farmer works in two very disparate worlds he very much wants to bring closer together: Harvard Medical School and the top notch Boston hospitals that gives him access to and his clinic in the central highlands of the poorest country in the western hemisphere--Haiti. He started the work in Haiti before he even went to medical school himself and obtained his medical degree plus a PhD in anthropology at the same time, while spending significant amounts of time at his Haitian clinic. He's clearly one of those smart, driven and extremely energetic souls whose drive to accomplish is nothing short of miraculous.
    Kidder doesn't say how he chose Farmer as a subject for his book, but it's clear his research extended over several years during which he visited Farmer in Haiti and Boston many times--and traveled with him to international conferences and to places where Farmer was working such as the slums of Lima, Peru and the prison system of Russia. Kidder is one of those writers whose books evolve organically, without a clear chronology or even a topical outline. If there's one organizing principal it's Kidder's own experience with Farmer, from his first impressions through his broadening understanding of a complex man and his work. The book is a joy to read and Farmer's life is nothing short of an inspiration. This book may be the perfect melding of superb writer and worthy subject.

    ...more info
  • Very Inspiring!
    I found this story very inspiring. Few can do as Dr. Farmer has done--he is amazing. This should be required reading for every high school student, in fact, for everyone!...more info
  • Story of an Incredible Man
    This is one of those incredible books that make you think about how you live and make you want to change it. This is not so much because of Tracy Kidder's writing, which is enthralling by itself, but because the work of Paul Farmer's life which is just so incredible. The book basically follows Farmer in his desire and decisions to try to stop people from dying preventable deaths. It follows the creation of Partners in Health, and its evolution to a worldwide organization. In the book, Farmer's actions make him seem more than human and yet through Kidder's narrative Farmer is human as well, not just a larger than life figure.

    You have to be an idiot not to see that the world needs changing; that people are dying each day from things that could easily be fixed were they in other circumstances (ie if they had money). This is a fact. Most people find simple ways to make themselves feel better about this, donating money every once in a while and then moving on with their lives. There are, however, some people who cannot simply put these things out of their minds and devote their lives to changing these things. Paul Farmer is one of those people and the complete sacrifice that he makes to helping people is incredible. I really cannot stress this enough. It is amazing and wonderful the things that he does and I think every person should read this book.

    That awe kinda overshadows every other aspect of the book. The format is a bit awkward but it is following real events through the eyes of one person (Kidder places himself in the book) and that accounts for it. Kidder goes back and forth between referring to various characters by their given and surnames in his narration and I'm not sure why he did this, but this isn't really distracting. The last thing, and this is something that I really would have liked to have seen changed is that throughout the book, Kidder, Farmer and the various other characters are constantly using acronyms and abbreviations for all sorts of things. While Kidder explains each one, he does so once and if the phrase comes up later, it is difficult to go back and figure out what it means. It would have been nice to have a one or two page glossary in the back to help with that....more info
    If you want to do anything in the medical missions field, this book shows you the passion and compassion of a man who did in right in Haiti. Definitely worth the money/ time it takes to read this amazing book. ...more info
  • Amazing book
    I first learned about Paul Farmer when I watched the documentary "Aristide and the Endless Revolution" where he is featured. I realized that I had a cousin who had been working for him for a summer in his hospital in Haiti. She had told me about this amazing doctor. Kidder describes him and his work very well. One can feel the complexitiy of Farmer. He is not portrayed as a god but rather comes out as an idealist but human being before all, with his doubts and failures....more info
  • An Honest Portrayal of a Man and His Message
    Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains presents a stunning portrait of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who brings healthcare to the poverty-stricken masses. This engrossing and eminently readable account follows Farmer on his heroic journey, as he ventures from Haiti to Peru to Russia while bucking traditional methods in favor of his "one patient at a time" approach.
    Kidder weaves a fascinating commentary, replete with tightly connected stories of poverty, inspiration, progress, and the true meaning of heroism. Farmer, who forsakes a very comfortable lifestyle as an affluent Boston doctor in order to follow his conscience, dedicates his life's work to providing "a preferential option for the poor" (Kidder 81). Farmer's wit, candor, and, most of all, humanity shine in the vignettes distributed throughout the narrative. After absorbing this disquieting tome, one cannot help but wonder how pragmatism and the market economy have discarded one of Farmer's most incontrovertible truths: "We're all human beings" (Kidder 80).
    Kidder's narrative is somewhat distorted by the unabashed hero-worship contained within. But what makes this book shine is its human quality: the captivating blend of a man, his message, and his "oeuvre." I cannot imagine a more perfect book to open one's eyes and one's heart, and that is why I heartily recommend Mountains Beyond Mountains. ...more info
  • The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer
    This book mostly focuses on PIH's contribution to the world's MDR-TB epidemic. It is a good read, but if you have no interest in world disease you might find this book fairly dull. ...more info
  • a great writer portrays a great doctor
    I just finished this great book about an American doctor's tireless
    attempts to serve the poor in Haiti, Peru, Russia, and elsewhere. He
    ends up not only helping hundreds of thousands of people but also
    influencing public health policy around the world re: AIDS and TB. An
    inspiring read with a lot of insights for activists and anyone trying
    to change the world for the better....more info
  • A True Masterpiece
    Dr. Paul Farmer, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, believes he has one primary goal in life: to help stop the epidemic of infectious diseases in countries with extreme poverty. Mountains Beyond Mountains is written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder, who gathered his information by traveling with Farmer and interviewing significant people in Farmer's life. Dr. Farmer's main priority is to treat and cure the destitute Haitians who have contracted tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. In order to achieve this goal, he establishes a health care center called Zanmi Lasante in the town Cange. Zanmi Lasante runs mostly on private donations made to Partners in Health, a charity Farmer started in Boston. One man that Partners in Health couldn't do without is big time Boston developer, Tom White. Farmer told Kidder that Tom White "had given millions over the years" (Kidder 21). Throughout the book, there is never a moment where Farmer doesn't work to the best of his ability, but he is still never content with the number of people he treats. Farmer states, "I can't sleep. There's always somebody not getting treatment. I can't stand that" (Kidder 24). This quote summarizes Farmer's philosophy and the true dedication for what he does.
    Throughout Mountains Beyond Mountains, Partners in Health expands to Peru under the leadership of Farmer's good friend and fellow doctor, Jim Kim. Kim is instrumental in lowering the prices of modern treatment for lethal infectious diseases. Towards the end of Kidder's story, Farmer is still spending a lot of his time with patients in Haiti, but decides to expand his treatment to Russia. He travels to a Russian prison plagued with AIDS, tuberculosis, and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR).
    While reading this story, one must remember that Farmer is dedicating his entire life to this purpose and gaining virtually nothing but the satisfaction of saving lives. His secretary in Partners in Health says it best: "Honey, you are the hardest working broke man I know" (Kidder 23). Tracy Kidder does an excellent job of putting together Mountains Beyond Mountains in a way that is both enjoyable and easy to read. After reading this masterpiece, Farmer's quest for justice and health care equality among all will motivate, shock, anger, and inspire the reader.

    ...more info
  • Awesome book!
    This book is an amazing story that inspires and makes you realize just how lucky we are to have simple human commodities. A great novel for anyone interested in infectious disease or a story about a man who tried to change to the world....more info
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
    Inspiring , a quick read . You don't have to have an interest in the third world or in medicine to apperciate or injoy this book . I gave it to my sister , she read it immediately an gave it to my mom who read it immediately . Who knows where it will stop . The world needs more people like Paul Farmer . ...more info
  • Well-Written Exploration of Human Struggle
    This book was fantastic. It was a non-fiction narrative, and was worth reading throughout just for the language and imagery. But what was really remarkable was the exploration of human suffering, both of those who suffered for witnessing other's struggles and of those suffering with such perspective.

    As such, it is an examination of humanity. Interestingly, it seems that we only get to really discover what that is once we've sat down and deliberated about it a bit. Why do we ask questions like, "how else could we have spent those twenty thousand dollars?" but not "why is an attempt to save that boys life not worth 20% of my (a doctor's) salary?" Or, "how do you say you are waiting for these peasants to 'step up' and demand clean water when they do not know that illness comes from water?"

    I just finished reading it and have ordered another copy to have to lend out. The only reason not to read this book is if you don't want to confront the reality of our potential as human beings. I'm a pretty intensely involved person, but Paul Farmer shows me just how much more I can do. And what fundamental assumptions need to be recognized and challenged if we are to succeed in our greater goals....more info
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains vs. Three Cups of Tea
    As a medical anthropologist and epidemiologist I am familiar with what Dr. Farmer has accomplished. As an alumnus of the University of Washington, I am aware that the UW encouraged all incoming students last year to read Mountains Beyond Mountains and that both Dr. Farmer and the author have been guests on the campus. Unfortunately, I read Mountains Beyond Mountains after having read Three Cups of Tea, a true "must-read," that chronicles the activities and passion of Greg Mortenson for developing schools in Pakistan and other areas of Central Asia. While it may be unfair to compare the two, their similarities in terms of describing what one person can do to make a difference are striking. Read Mountains Beyond Mountains first and then read Three Cups of Tea and think about what you as an individual can do to make the world a better place for all. ...more info
  • A wonderful man helping the ill and poor people in developing countries
    A story of what one person can do to help poor and sick people. Makes me want to contribute more to the world. A very good way to help heal the world....more info
  • Mountains above Mountains
    I had to have this book for a class I am taking in college. If you don't mind someone trying to indoctrinate you, it is a pretty good book. The medical jargon gets a little confusing at times, but nothing that will hinder you from enjoying the rest of the book....more info
  • Making the World a Better Place
    The novel Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, is a heart wrenching book that forces one to question they way they live their lives. It takes you on the journey of Paul Farmer, whose life mission is "providing a preferential [health] option for the poor" (Kidder 81). Farmer sacrifices his own comfort, and goes to some of the most destitute places in the world, such as the town of Cange in Haiti, to help provide the Poor's medical needs. Farmer treats all of his patients with respect, and gives them proper care no matter the cost. For example, he would give poor Haitian AIDS patients expensive drugs. He did this even when "No one else [...was] treating impoverished Haitians with new antiretroviral drugs" (Kidder 29). Paul's commitment to the poor makes a reader feel selfish and downright mean to the underprivileged. It forces the reader to realize how good their own life is and motivates them to use their own blessings to make a real difference in the world. Although the plot of the book is not very entertaining, it is an easy read and has a powerful message. I recommend this book to people who want to see how one person really can make the world a better place. ...more info
  • Controversial but Inspiring
    Mountains Beyond Mountains is Tracy Kidder's novel-like non-fiction book about Dr. Paul Farmer, an American doctor who dedicates his life to doctoring the world's poorest and sickest.

    Dr. Farmer spends his entire life traveling the world, working at the highest levels of the WHO and other health organizations, but also on the ground -- treating the poor one-on-one. Dr. Farmer became a controversial figure in world medicine, primarily as the result of his stance on two issues:

    #1, Dr. Farmer feels compelled to provide direct one-on-one care to patients, including patients in places among the most remote and destitute in the world.

    #2, Dr. Farmer eschews conventional "cost efficacy" principles by investing whatever it takes to treat a patient or group of patients.
    Dr. Farmer's unwillingness to compromise on the care of an individual patient inspires me on both the intimate level of one life, and on the broad level of what adopting an abundance mentality can mean for all our lives.

    In this review, I cannot do justice to the book, in which Tracy Kidder weaves these themes and others together, in much greater detail and with the movement of grand story telling. I encourage you to read the book and hope you are similarly thought-provoked and moved by it.

    Note, a more detailed version of this review is available at
    ...more info
  • Mountains Beyond Mountais: The Quest of DR.Paula Farmer, Who Would Cure the World
    This book tells the story of a remarkable physician. It is NOT a story of another kindly doctor but a well told story of a modern saint , warts and all. There is no syrupy emotional hype in the book, but straight telling of the daily life and struggles of this physician in the face of almost unsurmountable problems, and the remarkable results. He could live a comfortable life in Boston on the top of the Medical establishment, but he chooses to live among the poorest of the poor in Haiti, where he built a clinic for them. He travels the world helping to solve problems of the untractable infectious diseases using often no nonsense epidemiological methods and motivating the local health workers to do miracles. I am humbled: I am a physician, but never could have done what he is doing every day!...more info
  • This book changed my life...
    I recommend this book to everyone I meet who reads. Mountains Beyond Mountains describes a modern day miracle. In a world where there is very little to look up to, this book inspires. I particularly love Dr. Farmers focus on the individual. Image what the world would be like if each one of us was as passionate and devoted to helping those around us who were in need. I whole-heartedly recommend this book....more info
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains
    I had to read this book for a Sociology class and was glad I purchased it. It is the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and his desire to cure the sick and the poor. He managed to see what so many fail to see. That you are just as sick if you are poor and maybe even more so because you cannot afford the needed medicine. This book will break you heart when you read how these people live. ...more info
  • Inspiring and informative, but dry at points
    Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains is an account of the life and deeds of Dr. Paul Farmer, a brilliant Harvard graduate who works wonders for the world's poor and sick. He puts almost all of his time into his work helping the poor, and a very large portion of his money as well. He never sees his paychecks of about $125,000 a year, which are all sent to a bookkeeper at Partners in Health, his charity, who pays his bills and then deposits the remainder in the charity's treasury. Because he hardly keeps any money for himself, the bookkeeper once told him, "Honey, you are the hardest-workin' broke man I know" (Kidder 23).
    Kidder's account of Farmer's work becomes very dry at several points, especially when it is describing in detail the medical issues Farmer's patients undergo, and may be hard for some to understand without some background in medicine. This book would provide a reality check for many readers, showing how terrible the living conditions are in poor nations of the world today. For example, the house Dr. Farmer lived in while he worked in Haiti was similar to most of the other peasant housing, but "[...] exceptional in that it had a bathroom, though without hot water" (Kidder 23). Another example of Haiti's living conditions is put bluntly by another doctor who worked there, who stated, "There's no electricity here. It's just brutal here" (Kidder 80). The majority of the Haitians live in severe poverty, in conditions most Americans would cringe at, without running water or electricity.
    I would highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are interested in the fields of charity or medicine.
    ...more info
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains
    This is a very inspiring biography of a gentle giant named Dr. Paul Farmer, a self made expert in the field of International Health after graduating at the top of his class from Harvard Medical School. The biography is written expertly in a page turning style by Tracey Kidder, himself a Harvard college graduate. Coincidentally I found myself on a medical mission trip to Haiti this past January, and while I am not nearly as adventuresome or risk taking as Dr. Farmer, I nevertheless thought of him often, and I felt an eerie kinship with him as a result of my experience. I lost the book, and so I repurchased it several days ago from, and I can't wait to read it again!...more info
  • An Amazing Man
    This book is inspiring but troubling as well. I am a nurse and find his ideas of medicine/poverty to be right on target. Fighting the system is what is hard, he manages to do so at least in his areas of clinical work. His take on poverty and the world economic systems while not new, is seen through the eyes of a scientist and an anthropoligist which gives it a slightly new twist. For anyone interested in a larger world view I would recommend this book. Dr. Farmer is a unique man and his efforts, where ever he is, to change the world's systems is a challenge to us all. ...more info
  • Great book, remarkable man
    This book was chosen by SANTA BARBARA READS as the book the community would read this year. It was an excellent and inspired choice. Paul Farmer spoke to the community at a free lecture in October and he was even better than his press. Great sense of humor. Over 300 people turned out to hear him....more info
  • An extraordinary man in a harrowing place
    I love everything written by Tracy Kidder. This book was chosen because he was the author listed, not because of the subject matter. In fact, Kidder doesn't disappoint and Paul Farmer, the main character in this true story is a subject I long to know more about. I am glad to not have read the Amazon reviews prior to forming my own opinion of the book. Yes, Farmer stole supplies from Yale to give to the poor. Yes, Farmer does alienate some people in his zeal to help the sick poor people. However, none of that overshadows the fact that Farmer accomplishes miracles while others sit and contemplate what to do. ...more info
  • Life changing book for me. Introduced me to the field that is now my career.
    Life changing book for me. Introduced me to the field that is now my career....more info
  • Must Read
    "Mountains Beyond Mountains" is quite simply the best book I have read in years. It should be required reading for all health care professionals and students, as well as others interested in health care challenges in the third world....more info
  • An Inspirational Story
    An inspirational story set in the real world with real people, told by one of America's great storytellers. What's not to love? After reading this book, I purchased three additional copies as gifts. If you're looking for a lift, a story about how a single individual with courage and commitment can change the world, read this book. You won't be disappointed....more info
  • Very Good
    Although I had to read this book for a mandatory assignment, it was not a labored read. The author writes in a way that allows the reader to continue reading easily and endlessly until the book is finished, or stop whenever the reader needs a break. The story is eye-opening and enlightening while arousing feelings of anger towards the governments overseas conduct with "democracy" and aiding big business. The tale is capturing and the read is light. The only reason it wasn't a five star is because I wasn't very fond of the assignment....more info
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains
    For anyone wanting to know about Paul Farmer, this book is a must! Very detailed and thorough account...and besides it details all about Haiti. What more could you want in a book? I love this book :)...more info
  • This is one amazing guy
    I actually listened to this as a book on tape, but bought the book version as a present. In fact, it was recommended to me by another friend. I found it well written and the subject very interesting. ...more info
  • Making a Difference
    "Mountains Beyond Mountains" is a huge revelation for many of its readers. When reading this book you will soon learn about living in poverty. Kidder really describes the sights seen in a Haitian town, full of many diseases and where death at a young age is not uncommon. He tells the life of Dr. Paul Farmer and the challenges he over comes to help cure Haiti and other parts in the world from TB and other diseases.
    When you first start reading this book you realize how good your life is. Kidder explains that when Farmer goes down to Haiti he first starts working at a hospital that can't even store blood transfusions. After watching a patients die because of the lack of a blood transfusion Farmer says, "I'm going to build my own f**king hospital" (Kidder 81). This is where Farmer's life in Haiti really begins. He starts his own hospital, curing as many patients as he can and spending most of his money on the supplies and gifts for his patients. Through out the book Farmer demonstrates his drive and determination to rid these poverty-stricken nations of disease. Many people who are acquainted with Farmer asks how Farmer does all of this and Kidder's response is "I think in Farmer's case the answer lies somewhere in the apparent craziness, the sheer impracticality, of half of everything he does," (Kidder 296).
    Even though this book can be a difficult read at times, it is an important story. You don't have to be interested in medicine to enjoy this book because there are many more lessons that you can learn from reading it. For instance, you will learn to put others before yourself. This book will inspire you to be the best person you can be and to try to make a difference in the world.
    ...more info
  • Stunning
    This is a beautifully written book. Hauntingly inspiring and crafted to perfection. Kidder really hits the essence of who Dokte Paul is and anyone can appreciate this compelling story. This is a great real life example that not all Physicians are high horsed superior beings; some of them are true healers and live to help others. If I could give the book more stars I would do it!...more info
  • A book to underline, think about, and share.
    The inspiring story of a man who is willing to sacrifice personal comforts to a life of service to the most vulnerable people in the world, starting with an extraordinarily poor community in central Haiti.
    Narrated by an author who was not afraid to follow Dr. Farmer in his exertions and to question his opinions when it was necessary for our better understanding of the man and his ideals.
    It is wonderful to read how Dr. Farmer was able to surround himself with collaborators such as Pere Lafontant who had started to work in Cange earlier on, Dr. Kim who became an expert in epidemiology, Ophelia Dahl (daughter of the famous author Roald Dahl) who put together the organization to make all this work possible, Tom White the Boston millionaire who put up the initial money. That this group of intelligent and strongwilled people was able to work as a team says a lot about their leader and their ideals. Also volunteers and colleagues all over the world and so on in concentric circles to the community workers in Haiti who make sure that TB patients take their medication as indicated.
    I found the book both inspiring and humbling because it brings home the idea that each of us can contribute to move mountains if we are willing to do what it takes....more info
  • Climb Every Mountain
    Mountains Beyond Mountains describes an epic life through factual statements and individual narrative accounts, while never losing the uncanny connection it has with its audience. Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Kidder's harrowing recounting of the life of Dr. Paul Farmer describes the fascinating struggle of a man who believes he can change the world...and does.
    The subject of Kidder's observation is Dr. Paul Farmer, a smart, humorous man who "had graduated from Harvard Medical School and also had a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard" (Kidder 7). His personal accounts of his relationship with Farmer help Kidder to portray to the world something very close to a saint, but a very funny, human, and endearing saint. Combining medical facts with the more personal narratives of the patients and people that have made up Farmer's life, Kidder manages to create an engrossing look at one man's fight to save the world by providing healthcare to the poor while convincing us that it should be our fight too.
    The vivid description and individual stories meld together to establish a fluid passage of lines that read almost like fiction. Through such descriptions, we learn of all the things that make Paul Farmer human and his quest so inspiring, "Farmer lingers beside the crib of a little girl with wasted arms and a torso bloated by pleural effusion [...]. He reaches in and strokes her shoulder, saying softly, almost singing, in English, `Michela wants to give up, but we're not going to let her are we? No, we're not going to let her'" (Kidder 31).
    Here is a book that screams humanity and provokes us through the discomfort of our own comfortable lives; here is a book that is inspirational in reminding us that we are all people.
    ...more info
  • Mountains Beyond Montains:
    Wonderful story, beuatifully written about an inspiring, creative, energetic medical pioneer and leader....more info
  • Another living hero
    Paul Farmer is to Haiti what Greg Mortenson is to Pakistan. These are the people who best represent the American citizens to the world and I'm sure there are so many out there who do great sacrifice in their personal lives to help others. Besides being a well-told story of the needs of Haitians, it clearly identifies the problems of treating drug resistant Tuberculosis in other parts of the world as well. Well worth reading! This would be a great book group selection: informative, inspiring and memorable....more info
  • What One Man Can Do
    I bought this book for my book club. I hadn't heard of it, nor of Tracy Kidder. I coudn't put it down. The writing is smooth and informal. The content is gripping, as we follow Dr. Farmer from America to Haiti to the wider world. Paul Farmer's activities stem from the best human instincts--to save the world one person at a time. His use of the disciplines of anthropology and medicine is instructive and was productive. I really recommend this book!...more info
  • Beautiful, disturbing and inspiring
    Simply put it is partly the story of a doctor, a social entrepreneur, of Haiti, of public health policy and of a non-profit organization which has changed the world. Inspiring and also eye opening to those of us who tend to blindly believe in the wisdom of market driven, rational decisions....more info
  • Educational and inspirational! READ IT.
    Travel to Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia with the amazing Dr. Paul Farmer and suffer the enlightenment of treating disease with the rawest humanity possible. It is a mirror to oneself and forces introspection while providing direction to effect a change. How would the world change if we all accepted our moral responsibility to the less fortunate? An amazing and true story that is still writing itself. ...more info
  • Another Kidder winner
    There is something about Kidder's books that captures one's attention - its the details he captures, and how those details bring people to life. It is almost as though he paints a picture all around you so that you can become a part of the story - an observer like him.

    In this case, writing the story of a lauded Doctor who is changing the way the world thinks about addressing medical needs in areas of poverty, it could not have been easy to have gathered these facts. Dr. Farmer is fascinating - but so unlike anyone I know, that Kidder too must have been challenged to relate to him. Perhaps the most humanizing moment is when Kim (one of Dr. Farmer's associates) echo's for another time the message they try to teach their associates at Partners in Health - admire what Dr. Farmer does, aspire to do great things like him, but don't do it his way. And at some point this reader had to come to exactly the same point - I'm reading a book about someone who is doing great things, but in a way I cannot ever imagine replicating, and therefore I have to read this book almost as fiction.

    I walked away from the book admiring although bewildered by Dr. Farmer, and intensely admiring of Kidder. Both the man and the biographer emerge as tremendous human beings....more info
  • Thought-provoking
    You hate to start a review off with a "beware", but here it seems appropriate. This isn't the kind of book you can read and file away, or read as a novel- although it is written almost as one and flows quite as well. This is a stirring story told by a quality author who invested time and sweat in order to follow around for a few months a very amazing doctor. Simply put, this is the story of a man who loves the poor and has chosen to fight for them by just about any means available. He is a bit of an enigma, well more than a bit, at once a kindred spirit with undesirables like Che Guevera but also with the "church ladies" as he calls them, of the religious south. He is not only generous with other people's time and money, but generous with his own. He practices what he preaches is a cliche that hardly begins to touch the life of Paul Farmer, but it is a start.

    The stories of Haiti, ground zero for his work, are inspiring without being overwhelming, and the description of the ennui of the organization Farmer creates, PIH or Partners in Health, are also more inspiring than guilt producing. The author is able to convey the spirit of a very unique individual and remain honest to his craft without sacrificing much of the theme of Farmer's life and philosophy. And while it could almost be encapsulated as a devotion for the redistribution of wealth, it is far richer and far more (to use an overused term) nuanced than that. Kidder doesn't quite seem to share the extreme conclusions of Farmer's political views, and attempts to shield us from drawing the conclusion that Farmer is just another obsessed Marxist, and we gladly give him the benefit of the doubt. My only overall regret, and this not the fault of the author but of the subject, is that something is not made of the similar types that are just as devoted to the poor, who have given all to serve them, and yet look at life through a different political prism. Still, it is hard not to like Farmer even though one may suspect that he may not like you, and hard not to arrive at the conclusion that no matter your political beliefs that it is time to invest both more time and more money into helping the poor....more info
  • Fantastic Read!
    Mountains Beyond Mountains Book Review

    Tracy Kidder's excellence in writing is proven yet again, as he brings to life the history of one man who changed the lives of many people around the world. Read and used by Reader's Circle, a nation-wide book club, it proves its greatness as it describes the disturbing, yet motivational work that Paul Farmer accomplished while living in countries stricken by the political wound of poverty.
    Growing up in a second-hand bus, once used as a mobile tuberculosis clinic, and later a hull ship that was repaired by his father, Paul shows the true transformation - from rags to riches - any motivated person can accomplish. Even from a young age, he became familiar with the deprived nation of Haiti, starting with his early occupation picking citrus with Haitians, as his father, referred to as the Warden, "described, briefly the epic poverty of their country" (Kidder 51). Paul excelled in class, only to later receive a "Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard" (Kidder 7), and begin his numerous trips to Haiti, where he doctored the deprived Haitian citizens and cured many cases of tuberculosis and other dangerous diseases. His life story takes the reader through the troubling path of Farmer's double identity as a "big-shot Boston doctor [...], a professor of both medicine and medical anthropology at Harvard Medical School" (Kidder 10), and a meticulous savior to the dying people in poverty-infected regions. This true story breaks open the boundaries of one's mind, and makes the reader question their own legacy in life, motivating the reader to help in the potential change that can occur around the world....more info
  • A glimpse into greatness
    Paul Farmer is one of those rare individuals who, if we are lucky enough to have him come to our attention, by virtue of the grace, baserock decency, and the honest humanity that describes his presence we are given the opportunity to be inspired. In this nonfiction glimpse into the many facets of Dr. Farmer's life, we find an AIDs and Tuberculosis ID expert, an international health care activist, a man whose convictions are so obvious to him and so embedded in how he carries out his moments that his acts of courage are as natural a part of him as his choice of words in one of his many socio-economic-political documents, and we see so very clearly the family doctor who exists at his core. Farmer truly cares. Tracy Kidder has introduced us to our 20th/21th century Schweitzerian figure. It is Kidder's ease with himself and his relationship with Dr. Farmer and Farmer's real life in Haiti and around the world that allows us the endearment that we feel for Farmer. Kidder lives Farmer's life; he brings it to us in prose that flows as easily as good conversation; and, he allows us to believe that we have gotten to know the man. Thank you, Tracy Kidder....more info
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains
    Mountains Beyond Mountains
    From a high school student - 2 March 2008

    Tracy Kidder, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner The Soul of a New Machine, veers off on a different course as he explores new areas of the world and the problems they face. Upon his inquiry, Kidder encounters Paul Farmer, a prominent physician and anthropologist. It is there where Kidder's interest in Farmer's work grows and he realizes the great impact this one man has on so many people. Kidder describes Paul Farmer's unorthodox childhood and the conditions in which he grew up, from living in a secondhand bus and leaky boat to starting a herpetology class in forth grade. Despite Farmer's childhood, Kidder describes him as a gifted person and Farmer his headed on the path of a "big-shot Boston doctor" in which he attended college at Duke and later Harvard where he studied to earn his MD and PhD. Later in the book, Kidder describes Paul Farmer's accomplishments and his work in countries such as Haiti, Peru, and Russia. Paul Farmer did not just practice his medical and life-saving work in these countries - he lived it to the fullest. Farmer, with the help of some generous donors, built a health and social-wellbeing organization titled Partners in Health. There he helped and cured thousands of patients and not only gave them the physical ability to live, but the hope as well. Farmer once said, "It is the curse of humanity that it learns to tolerate even the most horrible situation by habituation" (Kidder 61). Farmer worked day in and day out to prevent this mindset and reeducated the improvised communities to strive for success and a new life; he was not just a doctor, he was a mentor, a life-saver, and a gift to everyone he met. In one passage, Tracy Kidder describes Farmer's dedication and devotion, "He told me he slept fours hours a night but a few days later confessed, `I can't sleep. There's always somebody not getting treatment. I can't stand that'" (Kidder 23). It is Farmer's complete focus on the task at hand that Kidder says makes him so outgoing and so successful in everything he does. Paul Farmer is a man of action, and in doing so he has given up his life to changing the world and making it a better place. When reading this book, you will wonder why everyone is not as caring as Paul Farmer and hopefully you will be inspired to make a change in your community. Reading this book, you may feel a rejuvenation of your soul and will be encouraged to act out in generosity and love to your neighbor as Paul Farmer did. Kidder's well-crafted words clearly express the conditions of Haiti and the poor around the world, as well as the brighter aspect of human nature and the ability to love. This book is truthfully an inspiration and well worth the eleven dollars you spend. Those readers looking for an outlet or a way to make the world a better place may be inspired to send donations to Partners in Health so people like Paul Farmer can continue to spread life and hope throughout the world....more info
  • Outstanding book
    This book is inspirational. It makes one think about how best to address major issues of health for long term solutions. It is humorous, and yet willing to examine hard issues and how best to provide health services in third world countries....more info
  • Dr. Farmer the miracle man
    This book has to be one of the best books I have ever read, its amazing and inspiring how Dr. Farmer makes a different single handily taking on TB and poverty. Its a great, easy read that will have you keep going back to the book to follow Farmers works in Haiti, Peru and Russia. Along with his personal life, the author does a good job of telling the amazing story of Dr. Farmer and his friends in a very detailed story that keeps you entertained. It must read for anyone that is going to be a doctor or just someone that wants to know how to make a difference in the world, no matter how big or small. ...more info
  • What medicine should be about. . .
    pure dedication and determination of one man who wants to cure THE WORLD!...more info
  • Inspiring!
    Kidder's description of Paul Farmer is absolutely engaging. As a pre-med student interested in obtaining an MD/MPH joint degree, I was completely enthralled with Kidder's accounts. Paul Farmer is an entirely selfless man that has literally changed the world. I would readily recommend this book to anyone with even a small amount of interest in public health or disparities. My new favorite book!...more info


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