Monday, February 17, 2014

To Be a Friend is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind by Kirk W. Johnson

Book: To Be a Friend is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind
Author: Kirk W. Johnson
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: From
In January 2005 Kirk Johnson, then twenty-four, arrived in Baghdad as USAID’s only Arabic-speaking American employee. Despite his opposition to the war, Johnson felt called to civic duty and wanted to help rebuild Iraq.
Appointed as USAID’s first reconstruction coordinator in Fallujah, he traversed the city’s IED-strewn streets, working alongside idealistic Iraqi translators—young men and women sick of Saddam, filled with Hollywood slang, and enchanted by the idea of a peaceful, democratic Iraq. It was not to be. As sectarian violence escalated, Iraqis employed by the US coalition found themselves subject to a campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination.
On his first brief vacation, Johnson, swept into what doctors later described as a “fugue state,” crawled onto the ledge outside his hotel window and plunged off. He would spend the next year in an abyss of depression, surgery, and PTSD—crushed by having failed in Iraq.
One day, Johnson received an email from an Iraqi friend, Yaghdan: People are trying to kill me and I need your help. After being identified by a militiaman, Yaghdan had emerged from his house to find the severed head of a dog and a death threat. That email launched Johnson’s now seven-year mission to get help from the US government for Yaghdan and thousands of abandoned Iraqis like him. The List Project has helped more than 1,500 Iraqis find refuge in America. To Be a Friend Is Fatal is Kirk W. Johnson’s unforgettable portrait of the human rubble of war and his efforts to redeem a shameful chapter of American history 
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: In my opinion, this book needed to be written and Mr. Johnson did an excellent job in describing how our government really-for lack of a better term- screws over foreigners who assist them. We constantly see examples of this from the examples given in this book to the Pakistani physician who informed us of Bin Laden's whereabouts. His thanks from our government...imprisonment in a Pakistani prison with no American rescue.

I must admit that one of the things that most impressed me in this book was that the author was able to keep it non-political. Most of the books like this are so heavily biased that I end up ripping it apart in review. However, Mr. Johnson holds both the Bush and Obama administrations who are BOTH guilty of doing this, accountable . It was refreshing that the author didn't come in with an agenda, but kept to shining a light on the injustice and abandonment of those who help us when we need them the most and our abandonment when they need us. 

To boot, I was excited because I know of the author's father, as well as where Yaghdan found employment, so that was an extra little surprise in the book. 

Just an interesting and eye opening read.
Source: Scribner for review
Would I recommend? : I have many a time. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

The Cleveland Clinic Way by Dr. Toby Cosgrove, MD

Book: The Cleveland Clinic Way: Lessons in Excellence from One of the World's Leading Healthcare Organizations
Author: Dr. Toby Cosgrove, MD
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Anyone who is in healthcare administration knows who Toby Cosgrove is. Everyone knows what The Cleveland Clinic is. Both are synonymous with quality, patient centered, cost effective healthcare.

Dr. Cosgrove lays out what has made The Cleveland Clinic the success that it is in an easy to comprehend format. Concisely written, he details how  The Cleveland Clinic has gone from a regional medical center to a global healthcare network powerhouse. 

These include:
  • The Group Practice Model
  • Collaborative Care
  • Emphasis on QA 
  • Preventative medicine 
  • Continuum of Care
  • Patient centered care

My rating: 5 Stars
My opinion: As healthcare changes continue at lightening speed, Dr. Cosgrove presents a concisely formatted book for what has made The Cleveland Clinic a healthcare best practice. These changes range from physician alignment to partnerships within the continuum of care, as a manner to preventive medicine. Effective measures in supply chain management are discussed to curb out of control costs, which impact hospitals and are frequently brought into the media.

In my humble opinion, the majority, if not all, of America's health systems are on the path to Cleveland Clinic's business model; however, Dr. Cosgrove lays out what has made their model work for them with the ability to do "best practice" applications for one's own system. 

As someone who has worked in the area of physician relations for well over a decade, I must admit that I found the section on the "group practice model" to be most fascinating to me, particularly as we see the trend for alignment in full force. Furthermore, Dr. Cosgrove discusses the need for medical leadership boards. Again, something common in the majority of health systems, but he discusses how have Cleveland Clinic's physicians have assisted in curbing costs in regards to preventative medicine to curbing medical equipment costs.

Source: Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : I would recommend this book eagerly to healthcare executives. I know I will be purchasing this book for my healthcare business library to be noted and highlighted extensively. Outside of the healthcare industry, I am not sure what interest this book would have for the "lay" person.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Friday, February 14, 2014

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Book: Burial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: In 1829 Iceland, Anges Magnusdottier, who was orphaned at the age of 6,  has been convicted of the murder of a farmer and his friend. She is sent to a farm to and is await execution. As she gets to know the family, it has been uncovered that the story isn't quite as everyone thinks it is. Can they save Agnes or will she die by the ax, as her "co-conspirators" already have?
My rating: 5 Stars
My opinion: I found this to be a well researched, historical fiction novel based on true occurrences.  This is a dynamic debut that I wished I would have read sooner.

I loved the combination of the "POV" between telling the story as a narrative and first person POV of Agnes. Thought it to be very powerful and the author nailed it, especially coming from a debut author. By her writing in this format, the author was able to write
"Real and approachable" characters with a depiction of the life during that period of time.

If this is the author's debut, I can't wait to see what else she produces. 
Source: Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : Already have.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule

Book: Practice to Deceive
Author: Ann Rule
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: On Whidbey Island, Russel Douglas is found murdered in his car by a single gunshot to his head. Found in a remote part of the island, why was he there?  Who would want him dead and why? What secrets does this pretty simple man hold? How long will it take for him to finally get his justice?
My rating:3 stars
My opinion: I have to admit that I wasn't as impressed with this book as I thought I would be. There was a very commercial feel to the writing in this story that I didn't think differentiated it from other true crime authors. I believe that this is my first Ann Rule book in a very long time and I just found it very superficial and pretty simplistic. 

Probably won't pick up another one by this author for a while. This story had deeply interested me, but lost me in its writing. I have read other reviews that stated that the writing was repetitive. I would concur with that assessment.
Source: Publisher for review
Would I recommend? : Yes, I have a number of friends who enjoy true crime books and this is a pretty standard problem with that genre. One comes to expect it. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Belle Cora: A Novel Phillip Margulies

Book: Belle Cora: A Novel
Author: Phillip Margulies
Narrator (if applicable):n/a (Although I am sure this book would rock it on audio)

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Loosely based on the life of a real prostitute, Belle Cora gives the life story of a woman who started out as an orphan, becomes a well sought out prostitute to her life as a richest and respected Dowagers of San Francisco.
My rating: My first 10/5 stars for 2014. 
My opinion: Good freakin' lord THIS BOOK WAS AWESOME! 

If I had ANY faith in Hollywood not to screw it up, this would be a great book made into a movie-even if it was only a Lifetime movie. Alas I don't, so please don't touch it! Also, a complaint...I don't know what numbnut is calling this a chicklit book, so please don't insult it that way.

This book was incredibly well written, engrossing and heartwarming/edge of seat intensity that masterfully doesn't beat you over the head. I know it sounds sexist, but I still can't believe that such a strong, complex female protagonist was written by a male. There were so many "lessons" to walk away from in this book.

This book was so refreshing, non-"cookie-cutter" read coming that came from the "traditional" publishing house. At first, my concern was that it was over-hyped. It wasn't!

My recommendation has been if you need to wait at the library for it...GRAB IT. It is one of those rare gems that is worth the $$$$'s.  I happen to feel that it boosted my reading experience by the feel of the paper. I have put the print copy of this book into my Amazon cart because it will be one of those very rare books that I read multiple times.
Don't feel like grabbing the print version, it was fine on my ereader.
Source: Doubleday for review
Would I recommend? : Haell yes! Plus, every person I have recommended it to has given it no less than 4 stars. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone