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Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital Hardcover – July 10, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


For anyone seeking to understand medicine from the patient perspective, "Twelve Patients" is a must read. Dr. Manheimer eloquently describes life and experiences inside a major public hospital in twenty-first century America. Particularly poignant are the stories that highlight the complex inter-relationship between the mind and the body and how our feelings and those of our patients dramatically affect medical outcomes.

--Carol A. Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry

I sat down to read this book and found myself still up at 3 in the morning unable to put it down. Manheimer has the gift of perspectives- from the body language and silences of a family hiding a violent past to the global economic and political forces gradually suffocating our ability to care for our patients. What are the ends of medicine? What are the ends of a society? These are the questions tackled here, and answered, too.

--Diane E. Meier, MD
Director, Center to Advance Palliative Care

...a look at what it means to guide an extraordinary hospital through extraordinary times.

--Perri Klass, MD, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics, New York University, Director of Graduate Studies, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

Medical cases are always fascinating. These reflect the lives of people whose stories are rarely told.

-- Marion Nestle PhD, MPH, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, and author of Food Politics and What to Eat, among others.

Manheimer offers far more than remarkable medical dramas: he blends each patient's personal experiences with their social implications.

--Publishers Weekly

This book is not only brilliant, it is deeply moving, and as socially and politically important as anything I have read over the past ten years. The medical literature during the past century has had a few masters of the art of communicating the current state of the art and science of medicine to the public in language that is so clear and understandable that they need no special expertise to understand it -- from Sir William Osler and Walter Cannon to Lewis Thomas and Sherwin Nuland. With this book Eric Manheimer joins their distinguished company -- and then some.
-- James F Gilligan

It is exactly the rich emotional and intellectual sweep of Twelve Patients that distinguishes this book from the usual tales of gallant doctors fighting disease, and makes it a perfect corrective for the massive denial of the urgent realities of illness and death that we all one day will face.

--Ernest Drucker

Sampling three decades of the doctor's tenure as medical director, the book offers desperate glimpses into the unfortunate lives of the sick, the injured and the dying, yet the author never relinquishes his hold on hope, however fleeting. Manheimer's unflinching reportage of his patients, the country's fractured healthcare system, irresponsible food manufacturers and hospital politics is authoritatively written.

--Kirkus Reviews

A unique foray into issues of race, poverty, immigration, politics, as they are literally inscribed into the bodies of society's most vulnerable patients.

-- Dalton Conley, PhD, author of Honky

A panoptic view of a hospital, a city, a profession.

--The New York Times

"[These] stories are as intensely involving as any scripted for a television medical drama."

- The New York Daily News―

"Manheimer has range as a doctor, a writer and a social commentator. This book is tough medicine. But nothing less is apt to work when it comes to curing that which is the hardest to treat, including our torn social fabric."

--The Huffington Post―

"Dr. Manheimer paints a stirring portrait of the physicians' dedication to caring for patients regardless of social standing or ability to pay."

- The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Eric Manheimer, MD was the medical director at Bellevue from 1997-2012 and is a Clinical Professor at the New York University School of Medicine. He is an Internist who trained at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York in Internal Medicine. Following his Chief Residency there, he moved to Hanover, New Hampshire where he was a member of Dartmouth Medical School and the Hitchcock Clinic for many years.

He has had a long interest in international health working in Haiti and Pakistan and in medical anthropology, history, the social sciences and literature particularly of Latin America. Along with his wife Diana Taylor, who is a University Professor at New York University, Eric travels extensively in Latin America and Mexico. He has two children and two grandchildren, both of whom were born at Bellevue.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455503886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455503889
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Twelve Patients" is an engrossing book written by the former medical director of Bellevue Hospital, one of the most famous (and oldest) public hospitals in the country. Manheimer details the lives of several of his most interesting patients, in often lurid and terrifying detail. He pulls no punches in his descriptions of these patients, and doesn't flinch in his portrayal of the often depressing social situations involved. Many of these patients have tragic background stories that have lead them through the doors at Bellevue, sometimes their only refuge from horrific circumstances. Through these stories, Manheimer also tackles the subjects of hospital politics and our country's broken healthcare system.

As a physician I found his book fascinating and truthful. Those of us in the medical field all have our own stories of patients who've left their marks on us, some good and some bad. Manheimer's great strength is that he doesn't try to sugarcoat the stories or his feelings about his patients. One patient was described as "evil." How often have you read a book by a physician that described a patient this way?

Medical memoirs appear to be in a renaissance. Manheimer's book joins several recent physician memoirs that I've really enjoyed. The most recent one, God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine is a fine read that really gets to the heart and soul of medicine. It's touching and thought-provoking.

...Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I couldn't wait to read Twelve Patients. The jacket summary depicted a well rounded read with the luxury of a glimpse behind the scenes through Dr. Manheimer's experience during his tenure as director.

The patients profiled came from various walks of life and varying background and circumstances. The book also touched upon issues plaguing the medical community as well as social questions on these issues. Addressing the hot topics from the eyes of a professional medical practicer is enlightening especially when the stories cited are non-fictional. You see first hand how the pressing issues effect people as a whole as well as the medical community.

I felt Dr. Manheimer's interest and compassion for all of his patients was genuine and sincere. He definitely provided the respect and dignity to all that entered Bellevue. His going the extra mile was appreciated by patients as well as his reading audience. Dr. Manheimer gave me hope that there are doctors that care and are willing to do more than write a prescription and call it a day.

I appreciated how Dr. Manheimer shared his own very personal health challenge. His challenge resulted in understanding patients experiencing similar challenges at a whole new level. He was both practitioner and patient which allows much more compassion and understanding towards others.

I found Twelve Patients to be informative and entertaining. Dr. Manheimer is inspiring on many levels, an example of how all physicians should be and how they should treat those they encounter in their profession/speciality.

I highly recommend Twelve Patients to be added to your reading list, it won't disappoint
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Eric Manheimer's book "Twelve Patients:Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital is an amazing and very realistic view inside the most amazing health care system in the world. Bellevue Hospital is the flagship hospital of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation covering at least 11 major medical centers in the NYC metropolitan area. I had the privilege of working for Dr. Manheimer as Director of Obstetrics at Bellevue Hospital. Reading this book took me back to some of the most exciting, stimulating and challenging years of my career. It was an amazing experience working under Dr. Manheimer's tutelage as our Medical Director. His open door policy, genuine concern for his physicians and mostly his patients is palpable in this book. Eric (as he preferred us to call him) has medicine in his genes---his father practiced internal medicine, even making house calls into his late 80s. Eric often accompanied him on house calls as a child. As you will in this book, this is where he became "imprinted" with the "art of medicine." It is really uplifting to see a Medical Director of a huge system operate with true "esprit de corps" taking care of his patients and his faculty. You will get to discover and appreciate the complete transcection of society (national and international) that receives health care at Bellevue Hospital. You will see the inside mechanics of the oldest hospital in the US and one of the largest teaching hospitals today.
I bought this book and took it on a weekend get-away with my family----what a mistake!!!!!! I had to fight my family off from taking this book from me----they too were wholly engrossed in the contents having "lived" Bellevue through me during my tenure there. Subsequently we have bought many more copies. As some who reads 2-3 novels a week, I give this book a 10/10!
David Seubert, MD
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