Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

by Tracy Kidder
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What are the 5 major lessons that can be derived from the book?

Kidder documents the humanitarian work of Dr. Paul Farmer. His aim is to bring quality health care to parts of the world that have historically been denied it. The book focuses on his work in Haiti.

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Here are five prominent themes throughout the book that can guide you.

Human rights are a primary theme throughout the book, and it was written in support of the belief that all people deserve quality health care. Tracy Kidder documents the humanitarian work of Dr. Paul Farmer. His aim is...

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Here are five prominent themes throughout the book that can guide you.

Human rights are a primary theme throughout the book, and it was written in support of the belief that all people deserve quality health care. Tracy Kidder documents the humanitarian work of Dr. Paul Farmer. His aim is to bring quality health care to parts of the world that have historically been denied it. The book focuses on his work in Haiti.

Hope is another central theme. Farmer recognizes the limitations of his mission and acknowledges that it may very well be a losing battle. Despite what challenges he may face, he is dedicated to this work. Farmer refers to the battle for equitable health care as “the long defeat." He holds onto hope that the world will change.

Classism is another theme. Farmer interrogates how wealth inequality has led to the current health care crisis across the globe. Farmer expresses much frustration over the heartlessness of the wealthy and their failure to produce any real change for people who need it.

Character is yet another central theme. Throughout the book, Kidder points out the sincerity and boldness of Farmer’s work and intentions. Ultimately, Kidder argues that everyone has a lesson to learn from his work. He believes that the world would be a better place if we worked to emulate the character of Farmer.

Critical thinking is also pertinent to the book. Farmer argues that there will be no simple solution to poverty and health care. Rather, he is looking for creative approaches that have not been tried. His patients over the years have taught him that to cure aliments in individuals he must take into consideration their environment. He applies this critical thinking to health care as a system.

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If one is to look at the five chapters of the book and derive one lesson from each one, the five lessons might look something like the following:

Chapter 1:  It is clear that there are always going to be obstacles to helping the poor and disadvantaged, at times there will even be other people that one must fight in order to help the poor.

Chapter 2:  The rules are not always made to benefit everyone, and sometimes they ought to be broken in order to help people.

Chapter 3:  Dr. Farmer believes that he must do anything necessary to treat people and that if they don't get better, it is his fault.  He doesn't want to depend on medicine or the regular western practice of it, he just wants to cure people.

Chapter 4:  Farmer always insisted that he had to see people first hand in order to understand how to treat them

Chapter 5:  Perhaps a lesson that can be learned is that success can come from unexpected sources and methods, that part of Farmer's success comes from his willingness to think outside the box at times.

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