Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Hero Makes His Diagnosis

Atul Gawande strikes me as something like a protagonist out of a 19th-century play or novel: the intelligent, humane physician/scientist, as articulate as he is perceptive, slowly fighting to unearth the hidden dangers, to expose injustice, and to educate and cure what ails the body politic. (I'm thinking particularly of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People.) Gawande might become to the early 21st century what Oliver Sacks was the late 20th: the doctor who, by virtue of his research, intellect, and humanity makes us rethink everything.

We've gotten a double dose of Gawande in the past few weeks: the strong right jabs of his short New York Times Op-Eds on the dangers of avoiding doubt and the slow cancerous degeneration of our health care system, and the left hooks of his New Yorker articles on the science of aging, the history of childbirth, or (from 2004) medical openness and the treatment of cystic fibrosis.

I bet his new book will be really good.


Matt said...

I've been talking about the latest New Yorker article for the past week, and I almost bought the book last weekend. If you read it, make sure to blog your thoughts.

Gavin said...

Word is that half the book or better is Gawande's New Yorker articles, so there's a pretty good chance that you know already whether you'll like it or not.

I'll admit that I read Gawande in the New Yorker religiously, and that he's helped shape many of my opinions on health care. Still, I may wait for the paperback.