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)
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*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
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