Today it's commonplace for Carnie Wilson to chat about her gastric bypass surgery on talk shows or Sally Field to hype a drug by talking about her osteoporosis. Celebrities yapping about what ails them wasn't always common, however, and Lerner believes that its prevalence now indicates cultural changes worth noting. Celebs have come to receive groundbreaking interventions previously -unknown to the general public, whether those consist of antibiotics, as in the case of Franklin Roosevelt Jr., or technological inventions, such as Barney Clark's artificial heart, and to introduce them to the general public, causing thousands to then seek the new treatment. They also create connections to fellow sufferers who identify with and may be inspired by how a celebrity handles the same affliction. Benefits aside, Lerner cautions that there can be considerable drawbacks. After actor Steve McQueen chose alternative cancer treatments in Mexico, thousands flocked over the border seeking similar therapies and encountered similar failure. Others whose stories Lerner retells for his insightful analysis include athletes Jim Piersall and Arthur Ashe. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
In dissecting the illnesses of these famous people, Dr. Lerner brilliantly separates science from the mythologized, bravely battling celebrity. Riveting reading.
(Lynn Redgrave and Annabel Clark, authors of Journal: A Mother and Daughter's Recovery from Breast Cancer
It's odd: When a celebrity falls ill, the illness becomes a celebrity, and public life democratized is made generally useful. Barron Lerner has created a fascinating book of this original observation.
Celebrities yapping about what ails them wasn't always common, however, and Lerner believes that its prevalence now indicates cultural changes worth noting... Insightful analysis.
A readable and thoroughly researched book. (Rated four stars: Excellent)
(British Medical Journal
Lerner has created a powerful prism through his thoughtful exploration of celebrity illness, highlighting societal and cultural forces that widely affect public and private health care decisions... Lerner's skills are superbly demonstrated in detailing complicated stories... fascinating analysis.
Lerner offers a superb volume rich with thorough and entertaining recollections and other information not previously in the public domain... A clear, concise, and captivating treatise that holds the interest of lay readers and yet illuminates for medical professionals issues that are important to the individual patient as well as the scientific community.
(Journal of Clinical Investigation
Lerner has done a beautiful job of tracing the degree to which celebrity patients have reflected and shaped the modern American understanding of doctors, patients, and illness. This book is a pleasure to read because of its compelling storytelling and analysis.
(New England Journal of Medicine
Physician and associate professor Lerner is blessed with the ability to research widely and write lucidly... Well documented and indexed, this highly readable book deserves a broad audience.
Interesting book, and the writing is sprightly.
(Roxanna Stein RALPH: Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy, and the Humanities
Engaging and intriguing... Can be enjoyed by a broad public interested in the modern intertwining of the concerns of celebrity and health.
(Steven Epstein Isis
When Illness Goes Public says much about the development of ideas of illness in American culture.
(Jasmine Gartner Social History of Medicine
Compelling... We can learn quite a bit about our society, culture, and values from the way celebrities' illnesses are publicly portrayed. As Lerner perceptively demonstrates, descriptions of illness and death ultimately have as much to do with how people want to imagine these experiences as with actual events... Lerner is at his best when he uses his considerable narrative skills to place these stories into their broader historical, cultural and ethical contexts.
(Michael J. Green American Journal of Bioethics
In Lerner’s capable hands, these dozen stories in their retelling are both colorfully dramatic narratives, ripped from the headlines (as the saying now goes) and also probing samples of historically specific contingencies and shifting attitudes.
(Chris Feudtner Bulletin of the History of Medicine
These 12 stories... delight and instruct readers about our own health and eventual mortality, and these are important things to know.
(John C. Bailar, III Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Well-written, professionally documented.
(Robert S. Robins Journal of American History
A major contribution to our understanding of health and illness.
(Abstracts of Public Administration, Development and Environment
When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine includes a great many references and keeps the reader engaged and entertained. This easily readable book will satisfy any reader's desire to learn more about famous people who have made a difference in how medicine and disease is handled in the U.S.... A great read.
(Fahmida Hussain Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
See all Editorial Reviews