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Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir

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Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9781608191192
ISBN10: 1608191192
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

After contracting polio as a young girl Martha Mason of tiny Lattimore, North Carolina, lived a record sixty-one of her seventy-one years in an iron lung until her death in 2009, but she never let the 800-pound cylinder define her. The subject of a documentary film, an NPR feature, an ABC News piece, and a widely syndicated New York Times obituary, Martha enjoyed life, and people. From within her iron lung, she graduated first in her class in high school and at Wake Forest University, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She was determined to be a writer and, with her devoted mother taking dictation, she became a journalist—but had to give up her career when her father became ill. Still, Martha created for herself a vast and radiant world—holding dinner parties with the table pushed right up to her iron lung, voraciously reading, running her own household, and caring for her mother when she became ill with Alzheimer's and increasingly abusive to Martha. When voice-activated computers became available, Martha wrote Breath, in part as a tribute to her mother. "This book is her story," writes Anne Rivers Siddons in her preface, "told in the rich words of a born writer. That she told it is a gift to everyone who will read it. That she told it is also as near to a miracle as most are likely to encounter."
Martha Mason, who is believed to have lived longer in an iron lung than any other person, resided in her family home in Lattimore, N.C., attended by three faithful assistants. She died in May 2009.
After contracting polio as a young girl, Martha Mason of tiny Lattimore, North Carolina, lived a record sixty-one of her seventy-one years in an iron lung until her death in 2009, but she never let the 800-pound cylinder define her. The subject of a documentary film, an NPR feature, an ABC News piece, and a widely syndicated New York Times obituary, Martha enjoyed life, and people. From within her iron lung, she graduated first in her class in high school and at Wake Forest University, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She was determined to be a writer and, with her devoted mother taking dictation, she became a journalist—but had to give up her career when her father became ill. Still, Martha created for herself a vast and radiant world—holding dinner parties with the table pushed right up to her iron lung, voraciously reading, running her own household, and caring for her mother when she became ill with Alzheimer's and increasingly abusive to Martha. When voice-activated computers became available, Martha wrote Breath, in part as a tribute to her mother. "This book is her story," writes Anne Rivers Siddons in her preface, "told in the rich words of a born writer. That she told it is a gift to everyone who will read it. That she told it is also as near to a miracle as most are likely to encounter."
"[Breath] reminds us of a time irrevocably gone—a time when everyone knew a couple of survivors from polio, relatives hidden from visitors in a back bedroom; a society in which gentility wasn't always marked by a university degree and people showed their cultural affiliation by exhibiting ferociously good table manners or dressing in good taste or listening to classical music on the radio during a Sunday afternoon . . . [Breath is] well worth reading. It really does sum up a vision of America as absolutely reliable, decent, resourceful and kind—just as Martha Mason and her wonderful mother managed to be during their difficult but extremely rewarding lives."—Carolyn See, The Washington Post

"Breath is heart-stirring, transcendent, brimming with love and humor and intelligence . . . with courage and an utter lack of self-pity and an earthy appetite for the joy that [Martha Mason] wrested from her life."—Anne Rivers Siddons

"Martha Mason writes, with eloquence and fearless clarity, about one of the most extraordinary lives I've ever known of."—Reynolds Price

"She writes as beautifully as she lived."—Patricia Cornwell

"Its staggering to conceive of a moment in an 11-year-old girls life when she is informed by her doctor that she will never recover from the effects of the polio that left her suddenly paralyzed from the neck down and that she wont likely live much longer. Mason writes eloquently and without a tinge of self-pity of her long, nightmarish journey from September 1948, when her beloved 13-year-old brother, Gaston, died of polio and she contracted it soon after; confined to an iron lung, she rarely left it for the next 61 years, while living in their rural Lattimore, N.C., home so that her devoted mother could care for her. Yet Mason was determined to transcend the limitations of her inert body: she always wanted to be a writer, and, with her indomitable Job-like mothers help, finished not only high school with honors but college at Wake Forest, where she participated in the cause of racial equality and was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. Mason writes breezily of her life before the polio, when she was a carefree, competitive, bike-riding girl in Southern cotton-growing country. Eventually, her mother slipped into dementia, sometimes lashing out violently, but Mason maintains a wonderful writerly detachment from her material, turning her remarkable life into a vivid, exalted, truly humbling tale of inspiration."—Publishers Weekly

Review:

"It's staggering to conceive of a moment in an 11-year-old girl's life when she is informed by her doctor that she will never recover from the effects of the polio that left her suddenly paralyzed from the neck down and that she won't likely live much longer. Mason writes eloquently and without a tinge of self-pity of her long, nightmarish journey from September 1948, when her beloved 13-year-old brother, Gaston, died of polio and she contracted it soon after; confined to an iron lung, she rarely left it for the next 61 years, while living in their rural Lattimore, N.C., home so that her devoted mother could care for her. Yet Mason was determined to transcend the limitations of her inert body: she always wanted to be a writer, and, with her indomitable Job-like mother's help, finished not only high school with honors but college at Wake Forest, where she participated in the cause of racial equality and was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. Mason writes breezily of her life before the polio, when she was a carefree, competitive, bike-riding girl in Southern cotton-growing country. Eventually, her mother slipped into dementia, sometimes lashing out violently, but Mason maintains a wonderful writerly detachment from her material, turning her remarkable life into a vivid, exalted, truly humbling tale of inspiration. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Mason shares her remarkable, inspiring story. After contracting polio as a young girl Mason lived a record 61 of her 71 years in an iron lung until her death in 2009, but she never let the 800-pound cylinder define her.

Synopsis:

After contracting polio as a young girl Martha Mason of tiny Lattimore, North Carolina, lived a record sixty-one of her seventy-one years in an iron lung until her death in 2009, but she never let the 800-pound cylinder define her. The subject of a documentary film, an NPR feature, an ABC News piece, and a widely syndicated New York Times obituary, Martha enjoyed life, and people. From within her iron lung, she graduated first in her class in high school and at Wake Forest University, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She was determined to be a writer and, with her devoted mother taking dictation, she became a journalist—but had to give up her career when her father became ill. Still, Martha created for herself a vast and radiant world—holding dinner parties with the table pushed right up to her iron lung, voraciously reading, running her own household, and caring for her mother when she became ill with Alzheimer's and increasingly abusive to Martha. When voice-activated computers became available, Martha wrote Breath, in part as a tribute to her mother. "This book is her story," writes Anne Rivers Siddons in her preface, "told in the rich words of a born writer. That she told it is a gift to everyone who will read it. That she told it is also as near to a miracle as most are likely to encounter."

Synopsis:

I live with a stable of nightmares, Martha Mason writes, but hope keeps them in harness. Some might wonder how Martha could have clung to hope at all. In 1948, on the day of the funeral of her adored older brother Gaston, a quick victim of the great polio epidemic, Martha was struck with the same dreaded disease. After a year in hospitals, she was sent back to her home in the village of Lattimore in the cotton-growing hills of western North Carolina. She was completely paralyzed, with only her head protruding from an 800-pound yellow metal cylinder that breathed for her. Doctors told her parents that she likely wouldn't live for more than a year. But the doctors hadn't counted on Martha's will, or the hope that drives her still. An avid reader, she dreamed of being a writer, and after finishing high school in her iron lung, she went on to nearby Gardner-Webb College, then to Wake Forest University, where she was graduated first in her class. After college, Martha attempted to begin a career as a writer, dictating to her mother, who had devoted her own life to Martha's care. But her father suffered a massive heart attack, leaving him, too, an invalid. Her mother, caring for both, had little time for Martha's dictation. Technology revived Martha's dream. A voice-activated computer allowed her to write without assistance. She got it early in 1994 in a time of great despair. A devastating stroke had altered her mother's personality, causing her to turn on Martha, and eventually to revert to childhood. Martha had to become her mother's keeper, and to run a household from her iron lung. To help her deal with the crisis, Martha began writing about her mother's selfless love. As she wrote,she found herself telling her own story, without self-pity or sentimentality, and with her usual courage, grace, and humor. Breath will make readers laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. It is a breath-taking memoir, a powerful testament to the human spirit, and it proves Martha Mason to be a writer whose voice is likely to be long remembered.

About the Author

Martha Mason, who is believed to have lived longer in an iron lung than any other person, resided in her family home in Lattimore, N.C., attended by three faithful assistants. She died in May 2009.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Cathy from Olympia, Washington, November 3, 2010 (view all comments by Cathy from Olympia, Washington)
If you are looking for a memoir detailing hardship and suffering, this is NOT the book for you. If, however, you are looking for a book of hope and courage despite seemingly insurmountable odds... well, look no further! Healthy, strong, inquisitive, intelligent Martha Mason had everything she could wish for. But then polio struck, killing her brother at age 13, and landing Martha in the hospital at "nearly 11 years old", and in an iron lung for the rest of her life. If anyone had an excuse to be bitter, Martha and her parents did. But instead, Martha not only survived the polio, she THRIVED, and harnessed her competitiveness to finish school and graduate from college. Her mother in particular was her champion, going above and beyond, acting as nurse and secretary. Through the many challenges faced by Martha and her family, faith (they were Baptist) and strong friendships helped see them through. A fascinating book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781608191192
Subtitle:
A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir
Author:
Mason, Martha
Introduction by:
Cornwell, Charles
Introduction:
Rivers Siddons, Anne
Introduction:
Cornwell, Charles
Foreword by:
Siddons, Anne Rivers
Foreword:
Siddons, Anne Rivers
Author:
Siddons, Anne Rivers
Author:
Rivers Siddons, Anne
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
Specific Groups - Special Needs
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Journalists -- United States.
Subject:
Inspiration
Subject:
Personal growth
Subject:
Inspiration & Personal Growth
Subject:
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20100622
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW Inserts
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

Related Subjects

» Biography » General
» Biography » Medical
» Biography » Women
» Engineering » Communications » Radar and Microwave
» Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Chronic Illness
» Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Biographies

Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir Used Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781608191192 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "It's staggering to conceive of a moment in an 11-year-old girl's life when she is informed by her doctor that she will never recover from the effects of the polio that left her suddenly paralyzed from the neck down and that she won't likely live much longer. Mason writes eloquently and without a tinge of self-pity of her long, nightmarish journey from September 1948, when her beloved 13-year-old brother, Gaston, died of polio and she contracted it soon after; confined to an iron lung, she rarely left it for the next 61 years, while living in their rural Lattimore, N.C., home so that her devoted mother could care for her. Yet Mason was determined to transcend the limitations of her inert body: she always wanted to be a writer, and, with her indomitable Job-like mother's help, finished not only high school with honors but college at Wake Forest, where she participated in the cause of racial equality and was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa. Mason writes breezily of her life before the polio, when she was a carefree, competitive, bike-riding girl in Southern cotton-growing country. Eventually, her mother slipped into dementia, sometimes lashing out violently, but Mason maintains a wonderful writerly detachment from her material, turning her remarkable life into a vivid, exalted, truly humbling tale of inspiration. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Mason shares her remarkable, inspiring story. After contracting polio as a young girl Mason lived a record 61 of her 71 years in an iron lung until her death in 2009, but she never let the 800-pound cylinder define her.
"Synopsis" by ,
After contracting polio as a young girl Martha Mason of tiny Lattimore, North Carolina, lived a record sixty-one of her seventy-one years in an iron lung until her death in 2009, but she never let the 800-pound cylinder define her. The subject of a documentary film, an NPR feature, an ABC News piece, and a widely syndicated New York Times obituary, Martha enjoyed life, and people. From within her iron lung, she graduated first in her class in high school and at Wake Forest University, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She was determined to be a writer and, with her devoted mother taking dictation, she became a journalist—but had to give up her career when her father became ill. Still, Martha created for herself a vast and radiant world—holding dinner parties with the table pushed right up to her iron lung, voraciously reading, running her own household, and caring for her mother when she became ill with Alzheimer's and increasingly abusive to Martha. When voice-activated computers became available, Martha wrote Breath, in part as a tribute to her mother. "This book is her story," writes Anne Rivers Siddons in her preface, "told in the rich words of a born writer. That she told it is a gift to everyone who will read it. That she told it is also as near to a miracle as most are likely to encounter."
"Synopsis" by , I live with a stable of nightmares, Martha Mason writes, but hope keeps them in harness. Some might wonder how Martha could have clung to hope at all. In 1948, on the day of the funeral of her adored older brother Gaston, a quick victim of the great polio epidemic, Martha was struck with the same dreaded disease. After a year in hospitals, she was sent back to her home in the village of Lattimore in the cotton-growing hills of western North Carolina. She was completely paralyzed, with only her head protruding from an 800-pound yellow metal cylinder that breathed for her. Doctors told her parents that she likely wouldn't live for more than a year. But the doctors hadn't counted on Martha's will, or the hope that drives her still. An avid reader, she dreamed of being a writer, and after finishing high school in her iron lung, she went on to nearby Gardner-Webb College, then to Wake Forest University, where she was graduated first in her class. After college, Martha attempted to begin a career as a writer, dictating to her mother, who had devoted her own life to Martha's care. But her father suffered a massive heart attack, leaving him, too, an invalid. Her mother, caring for both, had little time for Martha's dictation. Technology revived Martha's dream. A voice-activated computer allowed her to write without assistance. She got it early in 1994 in a time of great despair. A devastating stroke had altered her mother's personality, causing her to turn on Martha, and eventually to revert to childhood. Martha had to become her mother's keeper, and to run a household from her iron lung. To help her deal with the crisis, Martha began writing about her mother's selfless love. As she wrote,she found herself telling her own story, without self-pity or sentimentality, and with her usual courage, grace, and humor. Breath will make readers laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. It is a breath-taking memoir, a powerful testament to the human spirit, and it proves Martha Mason to be a writer whose voice is likely to be long remembered.
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