Shoshana, June 19, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
Hirsch, who has a brother and son with Type I diabetes, as well as having it himself, is well-situated to write this memoir/medical history of the disorder. He moves swiftly and easily through the early history of medical treatment for diabetes, with numerous interesting biographies and anecdotes. These are interwoven with his contemporary experiences and impressions related to his son's diagnosis and care as contrasted with his own. Hirsch holds my interest until Chapter 12, then bogs down in a fairly detailed and less-interestingly told account of Denise Faustman's research and political travails; he hits his stride again in Chapter 14, though he retells some pieces of his family story that he's already told.
Hirsch seems a bit vague on the findings on Type II diabetes, particularly on the reflexive relationship between weight and insulin resistance. His book focuses on Type I, which is fine, but in some places contributes to the general confusion about the similarities and differences between the two types.
Hirsch provides a lot of useful information about the history of Blue Cross/Blue Shield and other health delivery systems, along with an informed analysis of ways in which diabetes management profits those systems. I would recommend this book for people who are somewhat familiar with Type I diabetes; I would not recommend it for a newly diagnosed person or her family as Hirsch's ambivalence about the medical system is less-well mediated than the rest of the book; in addition, he seems angry on his son's behalf, but not his own, in a way that sometimes makes his tone an odd mixture of flat and over-emphatic.
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Mary Reagan, March 30, 2007 (view all comments by Mary Reagan)
This book is incredibly supportive to anyone dealing with the daily challenge of living with diabetes. My husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about 6 months ago, and I wish I had found this book to read then. It has helped me better understand the daily struggles, and ways to better support my husband in his vigilant monitoring of his disease.
The author has been a type 1 diabetic since he was 15 years old. His brother also a type 1 since he was a child. As the author was working on writing this book, his then 3 year old son was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The inner conflict of a parent wanting to protect his son is clearly evident. Personal experiences, and the history of the disease and many reasearch efforts are presented.
I will recommend this book to others whose families are touched by diabetes.
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fairchild2, October 31, 2006 (view all comments by fairchild2)
as a mother to a child just recently diagnosed with type I diabetes at the tender age of 7, I must say, this book, AND the title, is awesome. My sister is 29, was diagnosed at 13... I can relate to so much of this author's story. I highly recommend it!
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Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes, America's Biggest Epidemic
James S Hirsch
0 stars -
Houghton Mifflin Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Hirsch, a type 1 diabetic, agonized when his three-year-old son began exhibiting the symptoms of diabetes. More, he was prompted to take a look at diabetes and how it is treated in this country and the possibility of finding a cure for this ravaging disease. What he finds isn't always encouraging. Skillfully combining journalistic expertise with his personal story, Hirsch, a former reporter for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (Hurricane: Riot and Remembrance) asks the editor of a hugely popular Web site about the quality of care for diabetes in this country. The response: 'It stinks.' Hirsch details the physical complications that arise for insulin-dependent type 1 diabetics and health insurers' reluctance to fully reimburse relatively low-cost education for diabetics, resulting in their need for high-cost diagnostic testing and hospital care. Some of Hirsch's reporting uncovers a common blame-the-patient attitude in doctors. The author also covers the controversial studies of Denise Faustman, whose groundbreaking research has produced promising results in mice, and the stem-cell research of Douglas Melton. Overall, this is an informative and moving analysis of a disease with a death rate that, high as it is, the author says is underreported. 16 pages of b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A candid, provocative, and moving account of one of Americas fastest-growing health issues
If you or someone you love has diabetes, you are not alone — more than twenty million Americans now live with the disease. In Cheating Destiny, the best-selling author James S. Hirsch offers an incisive, sometimes surprising portrait of diabetes in America. Hirsch is intimately familiar with the disease: he has lived with type 1 diabetes for three decades. His brother, Irl, also a diabetic, is one of the countrys leading diabetologists. Most poignantly, his son Garrett was diagnosed at age three.
Hirsch draws on his unique expertise to provide an engaging blend of reportage, memoir, history, and advocacy. He offers revealing views of life with diabetes: the urge toward secrecy that many diabetics feel, the everyday psychological and emotional hurdles, and the perseverance — even heroism — required for survival. Hirsch takes a look at the science behind the disease and its treatment, and lays bare the impact on our economy, society, and our families. Anyone who lives with diabetes — or loves a diabetic — will find this book essential reading.
Hirschs myth-shattering blend of history, reportage, advocacy, and memoir speaks to the 20 million Americans who live with diabetes. He offers revealing views of the diabetic subculture, the glycemic rollercoaster they ride, and the remarkable perseverance--even heroism--required for survival.
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