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While We Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention Paperback – May 4, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (May 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520258460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520258464
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Faculty teaching courses in injury prevention will find this a useful addition to their syllabi. . . . It also may help inspire the next generation of researchers and practitioners.”
(Injury Prevention 2009-10-18)

“This book is well written and shows that public health covers a lot of areas.”
(Annuals Of Emergency Medicine 2010-07-12)

From the Inside Flap

While We Were Sleeping brings the stories of injury prevention alive. The stories link research to successful advocacy for change and highlight the need to translate data—to put a face on it—in order to make change. These are stories of creativity, courage, and commitment.”—Linda C. Degutis, DrPH, MSN, Yale University

"'While we were sleeping,' things were happening—good things!—that most of us were not aware of. Injuries of almost all kinds, to children, teenagers, elderly, disabled, and ordinary folks were being drastically reduced. David Hemenway documents this progress, some of it in the nineteenth century, most of it in our lifetimes, with analysis of what brought it about and, in some cases, who the heroes were. It's exhilarating to read—instructive and exhaustively documented by an author who has devoted a career to this kind of analysis." —Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Harvard University

"I wish I had written this book. It is astute, inspiring, full of fascinating ideas, and it shows precisely how success in public health is achieved. David Hemenway has given us a story of heroic grit and remarkable achievement—indeed, a whole compendium of reasons for optimism about what people and society can do."—Atul Gawande, author of Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

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Green Eyes
Dr. Hemenway, a professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, has done the field a real service with this book.
Anara Guard
It is very well researched, well written, and very readable.
Alton L. Thygerson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anara Guard on November 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Dr. Hemenway, a professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, has done the field a real service with this book. The title comes from his favorite fairy tale, in which elves help a poor shoemaker by stitching beautiful pairs of shoes while he sleeps so that he may sell them by day and earn enough money to feed his family (and buy more leather for more shoes). The idea is that public health workers have been those unseen helpers who have assisted us all, without credit, without personal gain. Injuries have been reduced dramatically over the past century, but not by magic. Real people have labored hard to make it happen. Faculty teaching courses in injury prevention will find this a useful addition to their syllabi. If you work in public health, this book is also perfect to help your parent, partner or offspring understand what you do--and why you do it. It also may help inspire the next generation of researchers and practitioners so that we may all enjoy future gains in reducing the toll that injuries take.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Emily F. Rothman on March 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent read for anyone who is searching for reasons to believe that public health activism can make a meaningful difference in our world. It is well-written, carefully researched, and has an intimate, accessible tone. I am going to recommend this book to all of my public health students and to my colleagues. I can easily imagine that I will be drawing information from it and referring to it time and time again for my own work. This is a much-needed contribution from an academic perspective, but also simply a fun read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Twain1972 on December 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
While We Were Sleeping is one of those books that delivers far more than it promises, and it continues to surprise all the way through. It's more than a history of injury and violence prevention, it's a history of nearly every useful item in our houses and our lives. Hemenway writes in an accessible storytelling style that matches Malcolm Gladwell on his best days. And because Hemenway has dedicated his life to the subject, the details in his stories resonate more deeply than Gladwell's, as Gladwell sometimes seems as if he's just passing through. From helicopter fires to building the Golden Gate Bridge to avalanche transceivers to Benjamin Franklin's lightning rod, and about 56 more fascinating entries, Hemenway tells us in concise yet richly entertaining passages just how the most important things in our lives became the way they are. Whether you're a history buff, an engineering geek, or just someone who loves an inspiring, well-told tale, this book is hard to put down. A fascinating read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nancy S on January 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
While We Were Sleeping is a thoroughly enjoyable read that highlights the successes and impact of injury prevention efforts over a broad spectrum of time and places. It will be inspiring and motivating to anyone in public health, and hopefully to those considering a career in the field of injury prevention or public health in general. It is a particularly unique work in that the stories provide solid examples of the often-immeasurable impact of prevention efforts. For those of us in the field who are experiencing increasing pressure to find ways to describe and substantiate the impact of injury prevention research and practice efforts, this book reinforces the value and reward of doing so; and in knowing we are making a difference.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carol R. on October 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
David Hemenway has written a gem! As a public health professor specializing in injury prevention, I LOVED this book -- for multiple reasons. First, depsite more than 20 years in the field, I learned a lot. Second, though it might seem that this is just a book for injury professionals, it is much much more than that. It is a wonderful primer on the principles of public health that every public health student and professional should read -- as should anyone interested in understanding the approach of public health to problem solving. Third, this is also an important and excellent introduction to the problems and progress in injury control -- a grossly under-recognized and poorly understood aspect of public health. Students of injury control should read this to gain greater familiarity with many of the accomplishments that have been made over the years through incremental changes developed via multiple innovative and determined people addressing a wide range of issues. Fourth, the book is incredibly inspirational in demonstrating how seemingly small or unrelated discoveries can create major change. Fifth, Hemenway's writing is clear, sharp and engaging. As a result, the book is very accessible and suitable to all readers, regardless of their scientific backgrounds or familiarity with public health, yet the messages contained within it are far from simplistic. Finally, it is one of the most inspirational books I have read in a long time and will take a place on my shelf with another of my favorites -- How to Change the World. I have recommended this book to all my colleagues and plan to use it as a teaching tool.
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Format: Paperback
While We Were Sleeping is an interesting book full of information that everyone should be aware of. Before reading this book, I was completely unaware of all the changes that had been made in products, roads, work places, homes, medical care practices, athletics, subway stations and more that have made our lives so much safer. Like another book that Hemenway wrote (Prices and Choices), this book examines so many different areas and gives so many varied examples of success in injury prevention that it should be appealing to anyone. From the few that we may know about to the many that we do not, Hemenway provides numerous examples of how our lives have been made safer. Each chapter provides specific examples of changes that have made us safer that we rarely think about (e.g., reducing the number of tap water burns in homes, reducing numbers and severity of injuries in football, lowering the odds of dying while anesthetized). He closes each chapter by discussing the people who have made the world safer -- those whose changes we benefit from daily but have never thought about let alone given credit for.

This book is fascinating from the perspective of a lay person yet would be an excellent teaching tool, as well. In addition to highlighting all the changes that have kept us safer, it also provides models that can be studied and used as a basis for future change in a variety of fields. This interesting look at injury prevention effectively exemplifies the very goals of public health as a whole -- prevention at a population level. Fascinating and hopeful, While We Were Sleeping is a well written book with widespread appeal.
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