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Cheating Destiny: Living With Diabetes, America's Biggest Epidemic Hardcover – November 8, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (November 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618514619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618514618
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,558,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hirsch, a type 1 diabetic, agonized when his three-year-old son began exhibiting the symptoms of diabetes. More, he was prompted to take a look at diabetes and how it is treated in this country and the possibility of finding a cure for this ravaging disease. What he finds isn't always encouraging. Skillfully combining journalistic expertise with his personal story, Hirsch, a former reporter for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (Hurricane: Riot and Remembrance) asks the editor of a hugely popular Web site about the quality of care for diabetes in this country. The response: "It stinks." Hirsch details the physical complications that arise for insulin-dependent type 1 diabetics and health insurers' reluctance to fully reimburse relatively low-cost education for diabetics, resulting in their need for high-cost diagnostic testing and hospital care. Some of Hirsch's reporting uncovers a common blame-the-patient attitude in doctors. The author also covers the controversial studies of Denise Faustman, whose groundbreaking research has produced promising results in mice, and the stem-cell research of Douglas Melton. Overall, this is an informative and moving analysis of a disease with a death rate that, high as it is, the author says is underreported. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Nov. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* If anybody could write a book on diabetes, it would be Hirsch. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 14, he has a diabetologist brother who is also diabetic, and his 3-year-old son was also diagnosed while Hirsch worked on this book. He is up-to-here with passion and commitment, and it shows. That doesn't get in the way of his mission to demonstrate the impact--personal, economic, scientific--of a disease that many say is the fastest-spreading epidemic of the century. Calliope music is almost audible as he describes the circuslike atmosphere of the 2004 Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, for which each pharmaceutical company's exhibit booth seems bigger and grander than the last one's. Hirsch segues from there to the heart-wrenching account of a toddler whose world suddenly becomes framed by needles, blood draws, and roller-coaster reactions for which the child will be held accountable, though Hirsch shows, through a thorough history of the science of diabetes, that it is the illness that controls him. Hirsch has an insider's candor speaking about life with diabetes, the sensitivity of the parent of a child with a chronic illness, and the skill of a good journalist reporting on the medical, social, economic, and scientific details of what was once called "the wasting disease." Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

James S. Hirsch is former reporter for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of four nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller, Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter. He lives in the Boston area with his wife, Sheryl, and their children, Amanda and Garrett.

Customer Reviews

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See all 21 customer reviews
Do read this book if you are a diabetic.
orpament II
The fact that this book was also tender, authentic and well written made the information very accessible.
Elaine Lo
The author shows the struggles of everyday living with the disease and also the succeses.
L. Heffelfinger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Farrell VINE VOICE on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by saying that if you're new to diabetes, this book is probably not for you.

Mostly this is because of the book's coverage of the recent history of diabetes treatment and all of the shortcomings. In the early part of the 20th century the hope of insulin followed by the realization of the complications caused by living with elevated blood sugars.

Hirsch has a lot to say about what's gone wrong in the past and in the present day. This includes the lack of coverage for proper diabetes care and the ongoing promise of 'a cure' in the near term. And he also has some eye-opening statistics about the cost of diabetes care and complications.

But readers might also be dismayed by the immediate future for diabetes. The author covers some of the research that's happening towards such a cure, without being unrealistic about the likelihood that positive results will occur any time soon (my personal bet is that we won't see anything significant before 2015).

I just wish that he had laid out a plan for how things might be made better. I know that in the end this would just be one person's opinion, but having a chapter entitled something like "Effectively Dealing with Diabetes until We See a Cure", where he made specific proposals such as how healthcare and research dollars might be best spent, would have made this a much more worthwhile read.

My one hope is that if enough people read this book they might start to talk with their legislators. Then maybe diabetes care and research might be handled in a way that would improve the quality of life for those with the disease now, and would yield significant health care savings for all of us along the way.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By orpament II on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I agree with those who thought this was a really good book. I've read Bernstein's book as well. I'm not sure why someone would think this is a book on diabetes treatment. It's a personal account with some historical, scientific stuff thrown in. Personally, I found it really fascinating and kind of comforting. As a diabetic, I've known that we really are on our own with only other diabetics to relate to. I think this author relays this well.

As for Bernstein, I'm actually following a lot of his advice, and, yes, I have seen improvement. But keep in mind, Bernstein's approach is rigorous and one of extreme denial of food, and extreme rigidity and control. His approach remains controversial. Not everyone can live like that. Part of the human existence is enjoying life, and food is a very important part of that. I can't imagine expecting a child to adhere to Bernstein's rigorous program.

Do read this book if you are a diabetic. It is not a manual for treating diabetes.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. Heffelfinger on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book has the passion and the feeling of how Diabetes affects every part of your life. The author is knowlegdable and has lived through what most diabetics have. The book has many facts that I did not know and the stories bring the book home to every reader. If you live with or love someone with the disease you should read this book. The author shows the struggles of everyday living with the disease and also the succeses. Great book with wonderful stories that can be felt by each reader.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By laurenlee on January 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My experience reading Hirsch's book was quite different. I couldn't put it down. I found his style of writing and presentation interesting, and believe he played devil's advocate with Dr. Bernstein's recommendations. A common theme throughout his book from Joslen to Bernstein to various diabetics interviewed, is that many people who manage their diabetes well eat low-carb, exercise, and maintain tight control. I found his message empowering as he encouraged diabetics to educate themselves and not rely passively on their physician's to help them. I was shocked to learn how little training physicians receive on treating diabetes (2 hours?), and how the powers that be aren't too interested in finding a cure due to vested interests. In terms of the physician who cared and couldn't make a living, that's where my profession is at in regard to insurance companies.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Lo on December 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a parent of a newly diagnosed diabetic, I was looking for exactly this type of book that had a comprehensive but layman's overview of the disease, info on current technologies/trends and insight into life with the "big D." The fact that this book was also tender, authentic and well written made the information very accessible. At times it was not easy to read because I resonated with the emotions described, but it was well worth reading. Highly recommended. I have already bought copies for gifts to our extended family.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By TTFN on January 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes and family members with type 2 I found this book fasinating! It gave the history of diabetes treatment, the discovery of insulin and the future of research. As a parent, Mr. Hirsch "validated" my fears of having a child of diabetes. My friends would always tell me that I worried too much about my child. I always told my friends " You never put your child to bed and worry they will not wake up.... I do every night." Though it may seem overreaction it is a fear we parents of children with diabetes share. I could not put this book down.
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