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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

on July 27, 2008
This is a fascinating read, both as a primer on the nearly forgotten scourge that polio was up until fifty years ago, and also as a look into a tumultuous and difficult life. Anne Finger wasn't just coping with being a polio victim from early childhood, she also had to deal with a violently abusive parent in her father, who may well have been an undiagnosed bipolar/schizophrenic. Finger describes in frightening detail her long-suppressed memories of being choked and beaten by her father, behavior which was ignored or rationalized by her "enabler" mother. She also notes that her own clinical depression and suicidal tendencies as a young adult may have been inevitable, given her upbringing. In spite of all this, she continued to struggle for understanding of her parents' behavior, linking it often to her "imperfection" of being a polio from early childhood. There is much critically important information on polio - its history and near-eradication - here too, making it an important document in the literature of the disease. Finger has obviously done her homework, making numerous references to other talented polio memoirists and historians such as Leonard Kriegel, Charles Mee, Tony Gould, Peg Kehret, Daniel Wilson, John Paul and Wilfred Sheed, as well as other lesser known writers. This is an important and eminently readable book. - Tim Bazzett, author of Love, War & Polio
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on August 1, 2013
Although polio is a disease people prefer to consign to the past, Elegy for a Disease makes achingly and eloquently clear how post-polio people today are not only battling with the consequences but also insisting on recognition, dignity and empowerment.
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on April 23, 2016
This book is so much more than it seems from its description. I wish I could convince people who don't particularly have an interest in polio or in feminism or in personal narrative to read this book. When I was reading it, I wanted to tell everyone I met about it. It is amazing on so many levels, yet it will probably never get the attention of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Oh well... I was lucky enough to read it cover-to-cover, and I am a richer person for it.
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on September 21, 2014
I would like to say up front that the only reason I am giving ELEGY FOR A DISEASE two stars instead of one is because of the fascinating part about the anti-war movement in the late 1960s.

Otherwise, this book would only earn one star at best and I will explain why.

I can understand Ms. Finger's desire not to be pitied, or even admired. However, she expresses such anger in this book that it takes away from any understanding of her situation. To expect others to be tolerant of you, you must be tolerant of others.

As a non-disabled person, I got this book in order to UNDERSTAND. I wanted to educate myself on Ms. Finger's life as a polio survivor. I thought this book would be a good source of education so that I would gleam valuable information from Ms. Finger's point of view.

Instead, I was bombarded with anger and even disgust at the non-disabled. For example, in one scene, Ms. Finger was trying to reach the button at a cross-walk and noticed a female driver staring at her. Ms. Finger yells at the driver, who responds, "I was only admiring you." To that, Ms. Finger became even more verbally abusive.

So, my message to you, Ms. Finger, is this: "If you don't like the behavior of the non-disabled, EDUCATE us, don't YELL at us, don't scorn us, and don't carry this tremendous anger towards us. Do you want us to understand? HELP us to understand."

Your book did not accomplish that. I finally threw the book on the floor in disgust after not even finishing the last chapter. The non-disabled are not voyeurs and vicarious. We are not cruel and evil. We just misunderstand.

Ms. Finger, your book is a missed opportunity to set the record straight. In the meantime, I find your book angry, whining, and that chip on your shoulder is HUGE.

For everyone else: Don't buy this book if you are not disabled, or else you will be classified as "the enemy."
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