Mountains Beyond Mountains

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, is an eye opening biography on the world renown Doctor Paul Farmer. Dr. Farmer is an anthropologist, Harvard Professor, and an infectious disease specialist. He was a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Grant and has been labeled a modern day “Robin Hood”. Now you are probably wondering what he did to deserve all these wondrous titles and rewards. Well, aside from being a well respected doctor, he is also known for his charity work. His charity work isn’t like any other we see from a day to day basis. He constructed a Tuberculosis (TB) clinic in Haiti, that offered free to practically free health care to the natives who were more poor and sick than we could ever imagine. He staffed the clinic with himself, being the specialist, and other Haitians who have had experience in the medicinal fields. The book tells the reader about the good, the bad, and the ugly times of Paul Farmer’s life. The story jumps from Harvard, to Haiti, to Peru, to Cuba, and to Russia, always keeping the reader hooked.

Paul Farmer grew up on living in boats and buses, always moving about. He never would have thought that, when he grew up, that he would become one of the world’s most well known and respected doctors. When in Medical School, he found his calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. With his busy schedule, traveling all over the world to conferences and clinics, he is still able to make house calls back in the United States and also scale the mountains of Haiti to help the people who need it most. Farmer also started a charity organization called Partners in Health, this charity funded a lot of what Farmer did in Haiti and the rest of the world. He also received help from the Gate’s Foundation, George Soros, the U.N.’s World Health Organization, and all the others who were backing up Farmer on his quest to “cure the world.”

The book received its title from the Haitian Proverb, “Beyond mountains there are mountains.” Meaning, as you solve one problem in the world, another problem will present itself and it’s just a never ending cycle. But Dr. Farmer’s passion and motivation had him leaping over those mountains that stood in his way. Surmounting the insurmountable. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the health care fields or anyone who just wants to read a book that will make you feel different about the world. I guarantee, who ever reads this book will be touched by its message; anything is possible if you have the will to work for it.


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2 Responses to Mountains Beyond Mountains

  • Amber says:

    This book sounds so good–but I get faint at the very sight of medical language on the page–Does the book go into detail about his medical practice or does it focus more on the doctor’s travels and the people he helps?

    Also this blog brought two tandem thoughts into my head so I will share:

    1. Yay for the MacArthur Genius Award! Did you know that one of Iowa’s own, the papermaker Tim Barrett, is one of 2009′s recipients of the award?! He is such a cool guy.

    2. In relation to the doctor’s work in Haiti, there is an intense (and heartbreaking) game online at where the goal is to keep an impoverished family alive for 4 seasons–it really highlights many of the health issues facing the Haitian people.

  • dthiemann says:

    Sorry for the late reply but the medical language and the travels kind of go hand in hand in the book. Each place he travels too, he experiences something new and explains it in vivid detail. I have a weak stomach myself and I was still able to withstand the detail he goes into, so it’s not as disturbing as it may come off as. The book’s main idea still encompasses his charity work, but in order to do that, the book needs to explain what exactly he went through in as much detail as needed. I really hope you decide to read this book. It has certainly touched me in a way no other book has.