It's Raining Books Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
  1. $18.19 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$9.95
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
8 Burnside DISP- OLD FAVORITES507ENDCAP, 509ENDCAP
9 Burnside STAFF PICKS- GREEN
7 Hawthorne DISP- OLD FAVORITES
46 Local Warehouse Ethnic Studies- Asian American

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

by

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures Cover

 

Awards

1997 National Book Critics Circle Award for general nonfiction

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run Quiet War in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Anne Fadiman is the editor of The American Scholar. Recipient of a National Magazine Award for reporting and a John S. Knight Fellowship in Journalism, she has written for Civilization, Harper's, Life, and The New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

A Salon Book Award Winner

Boston Book Review Ann Rea Jewell Non-Fiction Award

A New York Times Notable Book

A Detroit Free Press Best Book of the Year

A New York Newsday Best Book of the Year

Finalist for the PEN / Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run Quiet War in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally close-knit, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness and healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down moves from hospital corridors to healing cereomies, and from the hill country of Laos to the living rooms of Merced, uncovering in its path the complex sources and implications of two dramatically clashing worldviews. This is a captivating, riveting book--a must-read not only for medical professionals, anthropologists, and journalists, but for anyone interested in how to negotiate cultural difference in a shrinking world. Fadiman's ability to empathize with the resolutely independent Hmong as well as with the remarkable doctors, caseworkers, and officials of Merced County makes her narrative both richly textured and deeply illuminating. Sometimes the stakes here are multicultural harmony and understanding; sometimes they're literally life and death--whether in wartime Laos or in American emergency rooms. But whatever the stakes and wherever the setting, Fadiman's reporting is meticulous, and her prose is a delight. From start to finish, a truly impressive achievement.--Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It

Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different.--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

An intriguing, spirit-lifting, extraordinary exploration of two cultures in uneasy coexistence . . . A wonderful aspect of Fadiman's book is her evenhanded, detailed presentation of these disparate cultures and divergent views--not with cool, dispassionate fairness but rather with a warm, involved interest . . . Fadiman's book is superb, informal cultural anthropology--eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging.--Carole Horn, The Washington Post Book World

If tragedy is a conflict of two goods, if it entails the unfolding of deep human tendencies in a cultural context that makes the outcome seem inevitable, if it moves us more than melodrama, then this fine book recounts a poignant tragedy . . . It is a tale of culture clashes, fear and grief in the face of change, parental love, her doctors' sense of duty, and misperceptions compounded daily until they became colossal misunderstandings. It has no heroes or villains, but it has an abundance of innocent suffering, and it most certainly does have a moral.--Melvin Konner, The New York Times Book Review

So good that I want to somehow make it required reading . . . The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores issues of culture, immigration, medicine, and the war in Laos] with such skill that it's nearly impossible to put down.--Linnea Lannon, The Detroit Free Press

This is a captivating, riveting book--a must-read not only for medical professionals, anthropologists, and journalists, but for anyone interested in how to negotiate cultural difference in a shrinking world. Fadiman's ability to empathize with the resolutely independent Hmong as well as with the remarkable doctors, caseworkers, and officials of Merced County makes her narrative both richly textured and deeply illuminating. Sometimes the stakes here are multicultural harmony and understanding; sometimes they're literally life and death--whether in wartime Laos or in American emergency rooms. But whatever the stakes and wherever the setting, Fadiman's reporting is meticulous, and her prose is a delight. From start to finish, a truly impressive achievement.--Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It

When a Hmong child and her parents encounter the American medical system, what takes place is a veritable explosion that reveals the weaknesses and rigidity of both systems. Ms. Fadiman's painstaking research and extraordinary writing skills make this into a compelling story that, once started, cannot be put down. And yet The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is also a unique anthropological study of our society, one that will endure and be referred to for years to come.--Abraham Verghese, author of My Own Country

So extraordinary is this tale, no conventional label comes to mind. It is a story of the tragedy of an ill child, a debate between two improbably clashing cultures, an essay on the limits of reason and authority. Anne Fadiman has yoked all three forms into a remarkable book which touches on every aspect of human capability and makes one feel at once more and less in control of life. This is a beautiful and haunting piece of work.--Roger Rosenblatt

In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman tells the story of a Hmong family's experience with the American health care system and highlights many of the weaknesses of what some describe as the best health care system in the world. Fadiman writes beautifully and weaves the story of the Lees, their doctors, and the social and political history of the Hmong people and their unwilling immigration to the United States into a book that is difficult to put down once started. The Spirit Catches You will appeal to anyone interested in the culture of medicine and the interface between different cultures. It will also attract readers interested in the dynamics of power in the doctor-patient relationship and readers who can find inspiration in one family's devotion to a chronically ill child. Nao Kao and Foua Lee and their children came to the United States because they felt they had no other option. They could not return to their home in Laos because there they faced persecution, yet they had to leave their refugee camp in Thailand because it had been scheduled to close. They settled in a Hmong community in California, where their daughter Lia was born. The treatment of Lia's seizure disorder in the United States, both by her parents and by her health care providers, is the theme of this story. Fadiman takes the reader through the details of the treatment to paint a full picture of Lia's experience as a chronically ill Hmong child in America. We learn, for example, that long before the Lees even considered coming to the United States they had heard rumors about American doctors: doctors casually take b

Review:

"Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different." Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

Review:

"An intriguing, spirit-lifting, extraordinary exploration of two cultures in uneasy coexistence...A wonderful aspect of Fadiman's book is her evenhanded, detailed presentation of these disparate cultures and divergent views — not with cool, dispassionate fairness but rather with a warm, involved interest...Fadiman's book is superb, informal cultural anthropology — eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging." Carole Horn, The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"This fine book recounts a poignant tragedy...It has no heroes or villains, but it has an abunance of innocent suffering, and it most certainly does have a moral...[A] sad, excellent book." Melvin Konner, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"I cannot think of a book by a non-physician that is more understanding of the difficulties of caring for people...or of the conditions under which today's medicine is practiced." Sherwin B. Nuland, The New Republic

Review:

"Superb, informal cultural anthropology — eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging." Carole Horn, The Washington Post Book World

Synopsis:

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run Quiet War in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Anne Fadiman is the editor of The American Scholar. Recipient of a National Magazine Award for reporting and a John S. Knight Fellowship in Journalism, she has written for Civilization, Harper's, Life, and The New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

A Salon Book Award Winner

Boston Book Review Ann Rea Jewell Non-Fiction Award

A New York Times Notable Book

A Detroit Free Press Best Book of the Year

A New York Newsday Best Book of the Year

Finalist for the PEN / Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run Quiet War in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally close-knit, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness and healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down moves from hospital corridors to healing cereomies, and from the hill country of Laos to the living rooms of Merced, uncovering in its path the complex sources and implications of two dramatically clashing worldviews. This is a captivating, riveting book--a must-read not only for medical professionals, anthropologists, and journalists, but for anyone interested in how to negotiate cultural difference in a shrinking world. Fadiman's ability to empathize with the resolutely independent Hmong as well as with the remarkable doctors, caseworkers, and officials of Merced County makes her narrative both richly textured and deeply illuminating. Sometimes the stakes here are multicultural harmony and understanding; sometimes they're literally life and death--whether in wartime Laos or in American emergency rooms. But whatever the stakes and wherever the setting, Fadiman's reporting is meticulous, and her prose is a delight. From start to finish, a truly impressive achievement.--Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It

Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different.--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

An intriguing, spirit-lifting, extraordinary exploration of two cultures in uneasy coexistence . . . A wonderful aspect of Fadiman's book is her evenhanded, detailed presentation of these disparate cultures and divergent views--not with cool, dispassionate fairness but rather with a warm, involved interest . . . Fadiman's book is superb, informal cultural anthropology--eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging.--Carole Horn, The Washington Post Book World

If tragedy is a conflict of two goods, if it entails the unfolding of deep human tendencies in a cultural context that makes the outcome seem inevitable, if it moves us more than melodrama, then this fine book recounts a poignant tragedy . . . It is a tale of culture clashes, fear and grief in the face of change, parental love, her doctors' se

Synopsis:

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. [313]-326) and index.

About the Author

Anne Fadiman is the editor of The American Scholar. Recipient of a National Magazine Award for reporting and a John S. Knight Fellowship in Journalism, she has written for Civilization, Harper's, Life, and The New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 10 comments:

melbutler02, August 5, 2013 (view all comments by melbutler02)
As a medical provider, I found Anne Fadiman's book extremely eye-opening and insightful. Part history of the Hmong culture (the ethnicity depicted in Clint Eastwood's 2008 film, Gran Torino) and part biography of an epileptic toddler and her family's struggles with the American healthcare system, Fadiman describes The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down "not as the book about the Hmong but as a book about communication and miscommunication across cultures." I originally picked up this book to learn more about epilepsy but found myself realizing and redefining my own intolerance to other cultures.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
MollyT, January 3, 2013 (view all comments by MollyT)
Best thing I've ever read on how cultures collide, even in multi-cultural America. There are no heroes and no villains in this book, only people trying to do the right thing. Should be required reading for everyone in the health care and social work professions.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(5 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
dlm, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by dlm)
This is a great book for not only understanding Hmong culture, but American culture as well. A very well written anthropologically informed study of the relationship between a Hmong family, their severely epilectic daughter, Americans, cultural ideas, and medical systems. A great read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 10 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374525644
Subtitle:
A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
Author:
Fadiman, Anne
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Medicine
Subject:
Health
Subject:
Ethics
Subject:
Ethnology
Subject:
Minority Studies
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Emigration and immigration
Subject:
Intercultural communication
Subject:
Health - General
Subject:
Medical care
Subject:
Epilepsy
Subject:
Ethnic groups
Subject:
Hmong (asian people)
Subject:
Cross-Cultural Comparison
Subject:
Transcultural medical care
Subject:
Delivery of Health Care
Subject:
Epilepsy in children
Subject:
Attitude to health.
Subject:
Attitude of health personnel.
Subject:
Hmong American children.
Subject:
Hmong Americans.
Subject:
Minority Studies - General
Subject:
Asian - General
Subject:
Health and Medicine-Professional Medical Reference
Subject:
General
Subject:
Pediatrics
Subject:
Disease & Health Issues
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st paperback ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Series Volume:
no. 5
Publication Date:
19980930
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
360
Dimensions:
8.28 x 5.52 x 0.945 in

Other books you might like

  1. The Best American Essays 2003 Used Trade Paper $5.95
  2. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a...
    Used Hardcover $1.50
  3. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common...
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  4. Working Poor Invisible in America Used Trade Paper $5.50
  5. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of...
    Used Trade Paper $0.95
  6. The Gift of Peace Used Hardcover $9.95

Related Subjects


Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
Children's » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Essays
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Biographies
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Professional Medical Reference
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Asian American
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Immigration
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 360 pages Noonday Press - English 9780374525644 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different."
"Review" by , "An intriguing, spirit-lifting, extraordinary exploration of two cultures in uneasy coexistence...A wonderful aspect of Fadiman's book is her evenhanded, detailed presentation of these disparate cultures and divergent views — not with cool, dispassionate fairness but rather with a warm, involved interest...Fadiman's book is superb, informal cultural anthropology — eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging."
"Review" by , "This fine book recounts a poignant tragedy...It has no heroes or villains, but it has an abunance of innocent suffering, and it most certainly does have a moral...[A] sad, excellent book."
"Review" by , "I cannot think of a book by a non-physician that is more understanding of the difficulties of caring for people...or of the conditions under which today's medicine is practiced."
"Review" by , "Superb, informal cultural anthropology — eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging."
"Synopsis" by , Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run Quiet War in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Anne Fadiman is the editor of The American Scholar. Recipient of a National Magazine Award for reporting and a John S. Knight Fellowship in Journalism, she has written for Civilization, Harper's, Life, and The New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

A Salon Book Award Winner

Boston Book Review Ann Rea Jewell Non-Fiction Award

A New York Times Notable Book

A Detroit Free Press Best Book of the Year

A New York Newsday Best Book of the Year

Finalist for the PEN / Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run Quiet War in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally close-knit, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness and healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down moves from hospital corridors to healing cereomies, and from the hill country of Laos to the living rooms of Merced, uncovering in its path the complex sources and implications of two dramatically clashing worldviews. This is a captivating, riveting book--a must-read not only for medical professionals, anthropologists, and journalists, but for anyone interested in how to negotiate cultural difference in a shrinking world. Fadiman's ability to empathize with the resolutely independent Hmong as well as with the remarkable doctors, caseworkers, and officials of Merced County makes her narrative both richly textured and deeply illuminating. Sometimes the stakes here are multicultural harmony and understanding; sometimes they're literally life and death--whether in wartime Laos or in American emergency rooms. But whatever the stakes and wherever the setting, Fadiman's reporting is meticulous, and her prose is a delight. From start to finish, a truly impressive achievement.--Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It

Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different.--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

An intriguing, spirit-lifting, extraordinary exploration of two cultures in uneasy coexistence . . . A wonderful aspect of Fadiman's book is her evenhanded, detailed presentation of these disparate cultures and divergent views--not with cool, dispassionate fairness but rather with a warm, involved interest . . . Fadiman's book is superb, informal cultural anthropology--eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging.--Carole Horn, The Washington Post Book World

If tragedy is a conflict of two goods, if it entails the unfolding of deep human tendencies in a cultural context that makes the outcome seem inevitable, if it moves us more than melodrama, then this fine book recounts a poignant tragedy . . . It is a tale of culture clashes, fear and grief in the face of change, parental love, her doctors' se

"Synopsis" by ,
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.