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Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond MountainsTracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains; The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Change the World (New York: Random House, 2003), 317pp.

          Paul Farmer was born in 1959, the second of six children. He grew up in Alabama and then Florida, where his mother clerked at the Winn-Dixie grocery story and his colorful but strict father, nicknamed "the Warden" by his daughters, bought an old bus at a public auction that he planted at a trailer park near a campground. Throwing a cement block in front of the bus doors for steps, the Warden declared the Blue Bird Inn house and home for the next five years. He then moved everyone to a dilapidated 50' boat with a leaky roof, also bought at a public auction, which he moored in an uninhabited bayou on Florida's Gulf Coast. They had no running water and washed their clothes at a laundry in town. Farmer would later enjoy identifying himself as "poor white trash."

           Fast forward three decades and Farmer is a Harvard MD and PhD (anthropology), clinician, tuberculosis specialist, author of numerous books and scholarly articles, recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, and, today, Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School—when he is not living in a hut in his beloved Haiti where he founded Partners in Health, or traveling a quarter million miles a year to lecture, visit prisons, or meet with George Soros or the Gates Foundation. Most important of all, Farmer is an unapologetic, outspoken, and radical advocate for the poorest of the poor. Adequate health care, he insists, is a basic human right for every human being. Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder tells the story of Paul Farmer's life and work (a calling, really) in what is one of the most challenging and inspirational books I have ever read. After I reading Kidder's book I read Farmer's own book entitled Pathologies of Power; Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (2003). I encourage you to do the same. The title for this book comes from a Haitian proverb "beyond mountains there are mountains."

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