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Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope Hardcover – January 2, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (January 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060763116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060763114
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Extraordinary.” (Larry King, Larry King Live)

“Career journalist Cohen doesn’t flinch from probing for truth about relationships, money, fear, and death….One only hopes that, with their group presentation to a class of Harvard medical students, these five taught young medicos as much as they could teach Cohen and, through him, us.” (Booklist)

“The strength of these profiles derives from Cohen’s focus on chronic illnesses that, as he notes, are not “sexy” and generally “do not resolve themselves”....these are stories dense with quotidian details.” (Washington Post)

“This unusual book gives a voice to the voiceless--the chronically disabled who, in our health-conscious society, are defined by their disease....In this advocacy book, written like a personal journal, Cohen tells their stories....Strong at the Broken Places ends on a note of hope.” (Providence Journal)

About the Author

Richard M. Cohen is a former senior producer for CBS News and CNN, a three-time Emmy Award winner, and the recipient of numerous honors in journalism.

Mel Foster has narrated over 150 audiobooks and has won several awards. Twice an Audie finalist for 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelen Flood and Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey, he won for the latter title. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
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See all 43 customer reviews
Thank you, Mr. Cohen!
Judith G. Kaelin
This book of individual stories sheds light on the effects of chronic illness on families and on the individual themselves.
Lisa S. Baker
This is a hard book to read.
Kerry Walters

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

162 of 164 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on January 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I won't lie to you. This is a hard book to read. Oh, it's not because of Richard Cohen's writing. His style is as graceful, conversational, and flowing as readers of his earlier Blindsided came to expect. And it's not because the subject matter of the book--coping with chronic illness--isn't both intrinsically interesting and relevant to our own lives. In a day when medical science keeps us alive longer and longer, many of us who are now healthy are likely to be looking at chronic illness down the road. 90 million Americans already endure chronic illness.

And that's what makes this book a difficult read. It's too relevant. As Cohen says, "welcome to your future."

Cohen, himself one of the chronically ill (MS and cancer survivor), profiles five people who cope with chronic illnesses. Two are kids, three are middle aged adults. The illnesses are ALS, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, MS, Crohn's Disease, and bi-polar disease. Through extensive interviews with these people, as well as his own personal experience, Cohen explores the entirely new world we're thrown into when chronic illness strikes us. It's a world none of us are prepared for, and we have to grope our way toward answers to the new set of questions that confront us. How to deal with the ensuing anger? the panic? the loss of control? How to realistically acknowledge one's condition without allowing it to absorb one's whole being? How to deny in a fruitful way? How to cope with the healthy world, whose members are indifferent, terrified by, or clueless when it comes to chronic illness?

Doubtlessly each reader will be especially moved, because of his or her personal circumstances, by one of the five chronically ill folks profiled by Cohen. Denise, the ALS sufferer, particularly speaks to me.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Judith G. Kaelin on January 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
An eye-opening, compassionate and very honest look at the way many people with chronic illness choose to approach life in order to make it a life worth living. Not for childish, immature or me-centered people. Its message changed me, for the better. Thank you, Mr. Cohen!
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By buddyhead on February 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I wish I were a bigger fan of this book. I admire what Dr. Cohen did in giving a voice to those with chronic illnesses, and think he parlayed his own pain and suffering (from MS and cancer) into something healing and productive. I also applaud the courage of the individuals profiled in the book, and the tremendous dignity they brought to their respective disorders. Good intentions on the author's part, and the bravery of the book's subjects, however, weren't enough to distract me from the issues I had with SATBP.

For one, Cohen made a few strange choices in his selection of patients to convey his message, considering the extensive nationwide search he'd done to find them. An example is ALS sufferer Denise: Cohen portrayed her as angry with her condition (who wouldn't be?) and determined to live her life in as independent a fashion as possible, to the point where she arguably would prefer death over dependence on others. However, glimpses into Denise's past show her to already have been a bitter person before the disease, divorced and angry, and already alienated from her family (to whom she seems to prefer her cats). The rage and helplessness of an ALS sufferer would have been more acutely conveyed had the individual been happier prior to affliction.

Another curious choice was Larry, who had bipolar disorder. A huge theme of Larry's section of the book, underscored by both Cohen's musings and Larry's own quotes, was the public's misconception of mental illness, and the unfair stigmatization of disorders of the mind. Particularly offensive to the men was the act of committing someone against his will to treatment for a mental condition- something with no parallel in non-mental disorders.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on March 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Book: Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope by Richard M. Cohen

About: Cohen gets the stories of five people with chronic illnesses: Denise with ALS, Buzz with cancer, Ben with muscular dystrophy, Sarah with Crohn's disease and Larry with bipolar disorder.

Pros: The 5 people's stories are varied and moving.

Cons: Cohen does not let his subjects just tell their stories, which would have lead to a much better book as the five people profiled are very interesting, instead Cohen just seems to get in their way. A choice quote: "I'd rather hear this kid chew than listen to him talk about dying." While interviewing, He seems to try to get his subjects to say what he wants to hear and inserts far too much of his own struggle with MS and cancer as many statements that with "When I..." instead of focusing on the person he's supposed to be profiling. His analysis of the five adds very little and includes such groundbreaking lines as "Cancer is no fun. Neither are diseases of the bowel."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ruth M. Daly-kenefick on February 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book which is written by Richard Cohen, a man diagnosed with MS several years ago delves into the lives of other chronic disease human beings and how they are emotionally dealing with life, specifically theirs. I have been diagnosed with several chronic diseases and through letting Mr. Cohen through his first book into my life I now am able to realize how lucky we all can be. I am in the process of reading book number 2 and the irony of it is that a relative of mine has been diagnosed as bipolar and when I finish this book I am sure the most important part of the disease the humaness I will be able to help him with. Getting angry does nothing, Laughing and Smiling causes people to respond to you in kind. Support groups become a life line and people your potential cure. Thank you Richard and your family for sharing you journey with a world full of chronic disease recipients.

Ruth DK
2/20/08
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