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Waging Justice: A Doctor’s Journey to Speak Truth and Be Bold Paperback – June 15, 2018
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Kirkus Book Review
A debut memoir reflects on a life of serving others, from fighting AIDS in Africa to securing health funding in the United States.
Born to a family of Philadelphia sandwich shop owners in the early 1960s, Zeitz was heavily affected at a young age when he learned about the Holocaust. From that point on, he vowed to make sure he would not sit idly by during any future genocide. Relying on a defiant spirit to achieve his goals, the author pursued a medical degree, eventually becoming an osteopathic physician. In college, he met Mindi Cohen, and after some ups and downs, they were married in the early ’90s. After his wedding, Zeitz took a position in Nigeria to do field work for a short time, and then became a field epidemiologist in the American Southwest, where he and Mindi had their first child. After that, he worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development health program across the world, particularly in Africa. He then moved his wife and three kids to Zambia to become a government health adviser, covering many bases—AIDS, nutrition, and population. There, he saw up close the devastating impact of AIDS in Africa, adopted an orphaned child, and attempted to get more funds from the United States—sometimes to the chagrin of his bosses. After one too many steps over the line, the author moved back to America, where he became a successful activist, working with (and sometimes against) the government to raise money for AIDS outreach. But the unearthing of a dark family secret threatened to unravel all of his accomplishments. In his engrossing book, Zeitz ably finds a way to balance the telling of his personal and professional challenges and achievements, and is particularly effective in showing how they affect one another. It is hard to doubt his commitment to his titular cause, as he writes with a furious passion that seems to enjoin readers in a global struggle. At one point in Zambia, he stopped to see what merchants were hawking: “They were selling coffins—adult-sized, and ones small enough for children and babies. The injustice I saw in front of me burned like a raging fire through my soul.” But the author also unflinchingly describes his own mistakes and traumas, making for a well-rounded character study.
A surprisingly multifaceted work that delves deep into the personal and the political.
"Simultaneously a personal memoir and documentary, Waging Justice is a guide for current and future activists, rich with lessons learned and take-away strategies that can be applied to any cause. . . . Coming at a time of deep political divide, increased talk of isolationism, and a zero-sum approach to every issue, Dr. Zeitz reminds us that we’re part of a global community and shows us that if we remain focused on the problem, we can achieve solutions that rise above our divisions." — Conscience Magazine
About the Author
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1. A life story
2. A life’s work
3. A vision for the world
And some revelations of the authors personal life that drove him to act righteously, at the expense of his and his families own well being.
Knowing Dr Zeitz’s background was helpful at understanding his choices to do what he can to change the world.
As I read the first third of the book, I wondered why he would write this book and what he hoped to accomplish with the book. While I enjoyed knowing his story, and found the honesty refreshing, I was unclear on the take home message.
The middle of the book covered the work of a true public health professional working to create systems that make the world better. It is the stories of his time in public health. From his work in the epidemiological intelligence service and work with HIV care that gives the personal experience and reality that is often missing in these accounts. The truth he shared will help people interested to have a clear and honest picture of what life is like as a public health warrior.
Then there was his #MeToo moment that he shared. Unexpected. Tied together the strength he has shown and his needs that he shared previously in the book. And introduced a whole new story into the story.
The book concludes with Dr Zeitz creating a vision for the future. As a doctor he moves from health to justice. And he is just starting g to build his team.
There is a true purpose to sharing his story. It shows where the ideals come from. And where he wants to bring them.
This book captured my attention (and two and a half days straight of reading every moment I could).
This book is just the start of something.
I also worked in public health in Southern Africa during the peak of the HIV epidemic and I was really drawn back into just how traumatic that phase was and how much some of us really did become somehow temporarily numb to it for our own self-preservation. Paul obviously kept his senses alive, sometimes to the detriment of his mental health and the well-being of his family, in those moments, but it really is what enabled him to accomplish so much and really is his secret to waging justice.
I am grateful to Paul for sharing his story. I hope that others will appreciate it in the same way that I did. I highly recommend it.
While reading Waging Justice, I kept being reminded that the power to make a difference comes from the deepest place within. Life can be really hard sometimes. We all have our struggles and Paul was absolutely no exception. The gift that Paul gives the reader of his book is that he utilizes every life experience as a catalyst to make our world a better place.