My Own Country: A Doctor's Story

My Own Country A Doctor s Story By the bestselling author of Cutting for Stone a story of medicine in the American heartland and confronting one s deepest prejudices and fears Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee t

By the bestselling author of Cutting for Stone, a story of medicine in the American heartland, and confronting one s deepest prejudices and fears Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, the town of Johnson City had always seemed exempt from the anxieties of modern American life But when the local hospital treated its first AIDS patient, a crisis that had oncBy the bestselling author of Cutting for Stone, a story of medicine in the American heartland, and confronting one s deepest prejudices and fears Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, the town of Johnson City had always seemed exempt from the anxieties of modern American life But when the local hospital treated its first AIDS patient, a crisis that had once seemed an urban problem had arrived in the town to stay Working in Johnson City was Abraham Verghese, a young Indian doctor specializing in infectious diseases Dr Verghese became by necessity the local AIDS expert, soon besieged by a shocking number of male and female patients whose stories came to occupy his mind, and even take over his life Verghese brought a singular perspective to Johnson City as a doctor unique in his abilities as an outsider who could talk to people suspicious of local practitioners above all, as a writer of grace and compassion who saw that what was happening in this conservative community was both a medical and a spiritual emergency.

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My Own Country: A Doctor's Story

  1. Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.Born of Indian parents who were teachers in Ethiopia, he grew up near Addis Ababa and began his medical training there When Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed, he completed his training at Madras Medical College and went to the United States for his residency as one of many foreign medical graduates Like many others, he found only the less popular hospitals and communities open to him, an experience he described in one of his early New Yorker articles, The Cowpath to America.From Johnson City, Tennessee, where he was a resident from 1980 to 1983, he did his fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine, working at Boston City Hospital for two years It was here that he first saw the early signs of the HIV epidemic and later, when he returned to Johnson City as an assistant professor of medicine, he saw the second epidemic, rural AIDS, and his life took the turn for which he is most well known his caring for numerous AIDS patients in an era when little could be done and helping them through their early and painful deaths was often the most a physician could do.His work with terminal patients and the insights he gained from the deep relationships he formed and the suffering he saw were intensely transformative they became the basis for his first book, My Own Country A Doctor s Story, written later during his years in El Paso, Texas Such was his interest in writing that he decided to take some time away from medicine to study at the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1991 Since then, his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Texas Monthly, Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Granta, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal, among others.Following Iowa, he became professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in El Paso, Texas, where he lived for the next 11 years In addition to writing his first book, which was one of five chosen as Best Book of the Year by Time magazine and later made into a Mira Nair movie, he also wrote a second best selling book, The Tennis Partner A Story of Friendship and Loss, about his friend and tennis partner s struggle with addiction This was a New York Times Notable Book.

333 Reply to “My Own Country: A Doctor's Story”

  1. My Own Country A Doctor s Story is Abraham Verghese s author of the fictional Cutting for Stone moving account of his years as a doctor in Tennessee, specializing in working with patients with AIDS Verghese recounts his growth from a relative innocent first encountering AIDS to an exhausted veteran who has to come to terms with the fact that he could not save his patients The years are the mid to late 1980s and AZT is only beginning to be used at the end of this time and no other drugs have been [...]

  2. Am I a book snob Because I m finding that as I read a book, like this one, I keep asking myself why someone would waste so many words to say, essentially, nothing that sheds light on the story.Why do I need to know every time the author got in his car to go somewhere, that he turned right on such and such street, then left onto that highway, and then there was a bend in the roadFor real I understand that he was trying to give the reader a sense of His Country, but it became excessive He often we [...]

  3. Abraham Verghese s Cutting for Stone was one of the best books I read last year I m not sure if it was my very favorite, but it was in the top two or three, for sure.Although Cutting for Stone was fiction, My Own Country is a memoir, focusing on the years when Verghese, born in Africa to Indian parents, is a young infectious diseases doctor in rural Eastern Tennessee, right at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic As one of the only physicians in the area willing and able to take care of the men an [...]

  4. This book pretty much fits the bill for my absolute favorite type of reading passionate people writing beautifully about whatever they care most about and the way in which they are transformed by that caring Also I love a good medical memoir so I hit the jackpot with this one.I looked for this book after reading Verghese sCutting for Stonerecently That novel was brilliant and, as I didn t want it to end, I went looking for of Verghese s writing It would be hard for me to say which book I enjoye [...]

  5. If I could give it a 6 I wouldories and passion from the frontlines of the AIDs epidemic in areas that were unknown and uncovered, not the big cities, but the small towns where there was much less support and recognitionbut then maybe not I have lived for five years in a culture of disease, a small island in a sea of fear I have seen many things there I have seen how life speeds up and heightens in climates of extreme pain and emotion It is hard to live in these circumstances, despite the acts o [...]

  6. In the 1980 s when HIV was spreading around the country a young doctor by the name of Abraham Verghese started his practice in a community in Tennessee Very little was known about HIV at the time and there was no cure and only minimal treatment Verghese is an Indian doctor who grew up in Africa and studied in Boston When he came to Johnson City, TN and I am quoting the blurb on the back of the book as a doctor unique in his abilities as an outsider who could talk to people suspicious of local pr [...]

  7. My Own Country, a memoir by Abraham Verghese, uniquely describes the experience of an immigrant physician with the culture of Appalachia as he confronts the devastating medical and personal consequences of AIDS as AIDS patients sought his care as an infectious disease specialist in the 1980 s These patients grew up in the hills of east Tennessee, fled the ostracism towards gays there, and went to the cities of New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco There, they felt liberated, accepted in the gay c [...]

  8. Okay so my brother Greg recommended I read Abraham Verghese s Cutting For Stone Since Greg has excellent literary taste I looked up the book and recommended it to many of my friends However, I was afraid to read it because I thought it might make me sad So instead I decided to read his non fiction account of treating AIDs in Tennessee during the 1980s, My Own Country Cause yeah that wouldn t be sad My gracious friend Molly had a copy of the book which she lent to me I just finished it and had to [...]

  9. Wow a fascinating account of one doctor s experience during ground zero of the AIDS epidemic Incredibly well written and personal, Verghese paints a captivating picture of the utter fear, devastation, and hope in the early days of AIDS A specialist in infectious diseases, Verghese did not anticipate that his life in rural Johnson City, Tennessee would soon be consumed by AIDS The disease was thought to be a problem of the big cities on the coasts And of the gay community, which was nearly invisi [...]

  10. This is a fine book about the early days of the HIV epidemic, and how perplexed and conflicted many were as they came to terms with their own feelings and reactions to the disease and those who contracted it However, it also is a book in the longstanding tradition of HIV books that are self congratulatory, maudlin, and self pitying The irony of HIV has often been that, while pleading for it to be treated as just another disease in order to normalize those who suffer from it rather than marginali [...]

  11. The author of this book is an Indian doctor, working at a hospital in Johnson city, Tennessee, at the start of the AIDS epidemic His account is of being the only infectious diseases physician in a rural community at a time when the first wave of HIV positive gay men were returning to their hometowns from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles His observations of the men and women who come to him for care, and the relationships that have grown between them, are insightful and vivid Though he is [...]

  12. I read this book immediately after finishing Cutting For Stone because I was so impressed with Verghese s writing and by the man too.Reading My Own Country you can see clearly how much Verghese s own life story informed the story of his novel particularly the life of an immigrant doctor in the second or third tier hospitals and rural areas of the United States You can also see how Verghese was able to write so eloquently in his novel when he writes about his connection with his patients in Johns [...]

  13. I wasn t expecting much literary prowess from a book I was required to read for medical school, but was pleasantly surprised by Dr Verghese s seminal account of treating AIDs patients in 1980s rural Tennessee His accounts delve into so many of the nuanced issues surrounding medicine patient doctor relationships, cultural values, work life balance, but what makes him a good writer and no doubt a good physician as well is his painstaking attention to detail He puts you into his head during the dia [...]

  14. Excellent narrative of a young doctor who by virture of his infectious diseases specialty, his foreign ness and his deep and utter compassion for others becomes the AIDS expert in a small rural setting of East Tennessee in the mid 1980s, when the number of HIV infected patients begins to rise Though it s a nonfiction account, it reads like a novel while providing a fascinating and unflinching look at how AIDS affected the gay community, how it made its way from the urban centers into the rural c [...]

  15. This is the story of the author s work with AIDS patients in eastern Tennessee in the 1980 s It was a horrifying time, when there were no treatments and then finally there was AZT and when family, friends, clergy, and medical professionals shunned HIV positive people and people with AIDS The author describes some of his patients, his relationship with them, and how being the AIDS doctor impacted his personal and professional life It was a good and difficult read.

  16. I decided to read this book for two reasons One, I really enjoyed Verghese s Cutting for Stone, and two, a medical student now MD friend that I highly respect told me this book had influenced his career choices The book was full of complexity for me and I related to the story on many levels I have a long standing interest in public health, so the story of AIDS coming to a rural southern town was quite powerful The story covers about 1982 1990 so AIDS was not understood and basically untreatable [...]

  17. Dr Verghese earned four of my stars for his fictional Cutting for Stone, but I only offer three for this memoir He tells of his years as a rural Tennessee internist, in the era of the discovery of HIV Verghese shares many vignettes of the HIV patients he managed and the resistance and fear often encountered in the community.The story is historically interesting, as HIV AIDs is discovered in urban centers and migrates silently to small town America Certainly Verghese performed an enormous service [...]

  18. I read this book after reading Cutting for Stone I wanted to know about the author who had penned one of my favorite books and what his real life was like What I found was an intriguing story of what it is like to be an infectious disease doctor treating patients for which there is no known cure Verghese struggled with all sorts of questions How do you help prepare your patients for the inevitable How do you council them through the ostracism of friends and family How do you change your own vie [...]

  19. Verghese is amazing writer, albeit a little detail overloaded sometimes you get the feeling he is practicing his writing Be that as it may, he is clearly a caring doctor on the cusp of what will become the AIDS epidemic of our time Takes place in Tennessee where the first cases of AIDS reach his rural community, and the sense of place is as real as the people he treats Insightful, sympathetic and exhausting all at once.

  20. I m full of admiration for this book, and there s no single reason It s an AIDS memoir, told from the standpoint of the doctor who cared for the patients, and who just happened to be a gifted writer who would later write a bestselling novel It tells the story of the patients in a completely sympathetic way, even though Verghese arrived at this job knowing little about AIDS or about gay culture The way Verghese is honest about his initial naivet is endearing, and he shows the same kind of honesty [...]

  21. I read Cutting for Stone by this same author several years ago I had heard about this memoir and several of my friends recommended it but too little time too many books.d I tend to read fiction than non fiction so Book Club picked this to read and I started it It is an amazing book He writes so beautifully about his thinking and his feelings and about his patients I could not put the book down for the last few days It is about a young Indian doctor who comes to the US and end up in east Tenness [...]

  22. 4.50 starsAbraham Verghese has accomplished something wonderful in this very personal account of his experiences with the first AIDS patients that he treated as an infectious disease physician in eastern Tennessee in the mid 1980 s He bares his own soul about how difficult it was to see his patients sicken and die, about how devastating it was for them, their families, and himself to have to face the reality that there was no cure He expresses his emotions of feeling like he was in a war zone wh [...]

  23. This is a great book that I had trouble putting down Verghese is a wonderful writer and in this book we learn about the people impacted by the AIDS epidemic and how it changed him I also read Cutting for Stone and thought it was wonderful as well.

  24. Although the ending was sad, I still had to read it Now I want to read his novel all over again.

  25. I just finished reading MY OWN COUNTRY A DOCTOR S STORY by Abraham Verghese I think it s a WONDERFUL book Amazing and beautiful and sweet and sad and terrifying and gorgeous Beautifully written Exquisite prose.And a VERY disturbing book The book is an exploration and investigation of the early days of the AIDS epidemic, and of the people who were infected by the virus, and of the physicians, nurses, and others who cared for them It focuses on the area in and around Johnson City, Tennessee The bo [...]

  26. After reading and loving Cutting for Stone, I had high expectations for this earlier Verghese book I was frankly a bit disappointed I still want Verghese to be my physician He is compassionate, courageous and he loves his chosen vocation He also is intelligent and knows how to write well But this was not Cutting for Stone It is not nearly as well written, although it may be unfair too compare the two CFS was a novel and this book is a memoir also CFS was written after My Own Country and Verghese [...]

  27. Moving, powerful and painful, My Own Country copyright 1994 is a memoir about AIDS coming to east Tennessee in the 1980s The author was initially the only infectious diseases doctor in the region to take on HIV infection which initially did not exist there But first one case came Verghese s way, then another and another Before long, he was treating 10 times as many cases in Johnson City, Tenn as the Centers for Disease Control projections suggested for such a relatively isolated, rural place.Alt [...]

  28. This was the first book of Verghese s I knew about but I read his novel Cutting for Stone first.This one I gave to my daughter in law who is a nurse and works on HIV prevention at a clinic in Boston I borrowed it from her recently and read it with great interest and pleasure I also bought myself a copy at my favorite local bookstore I picked it up to check something about dates and saw that the copy was signed I asked at my bookstore in Cambridge MA , Verghese is at Stanford now and they said he [...]

  29. This isn t a perfect book but I am giving it five stars because it provides a well written and fascinating perspective on the early days of the AIDS fight Dr Abraham Verghese is best known for his novel, Cutting for Stone, but before he was a best selling author, he was an infectious disease specialist Early in his career, he landed in a small city in eastern Tennessee This was the mid 1980s and AIDS cases were starting to appear in places other than San Francisco and New York Verghese found him [...]

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