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Paul Farmer --- A True Hero if ever someone merited that Distinction
on February 8, 2015
Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains" is the remarkable story of Paul Farmer. I knew nothing of Farmer before starting this book and left with a sense of awe and inspiration both for he has accomplished and how accomplished it. In an era where people bandy about the word hero fairly freely, Farmer truly deserves that moniker. His selfless devotion to the health of those in extreme poverty and the work he and his organization, Partners in Health, has done in Haiti, Russia and Peru (what Kidder covers in this book) has saved countless lives of nameless and faceless people in environments words could hardly do justice. Kidder strikes the right balance about Farmer in this book. He doesn't exalt him to saintly status. He is able to marvel and chronicle the relentless work and insane pace that Farmer keeps while not glossing over character traits that undoubtedly often frustrate Kidder and probably make Farmer challenging in the eyes of many that deal with him. For instance, despite Farmer's success with Partners in Health, Kidder wonders whether it is sustainable without him and his force of will, perseverance and personality. Regardless of your political leanings, only the most jaded and negative person could read this book and not come away somewhat mesmerized by Farmer --- and feel a bit inferior at the same time. During this era of movie star and athletic worship, Farmer is the type of individual we should be celebrating and exalting as a true hero and I'm glad someone as accomplished as Tracy Kidder wrote such a compelling book about him.