The Fictioning

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Tour our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Original Essays | September 30, 2014

    Brian Doyle: IMG The Rude Burl of Our Masks

    One day when I was 12 years old and setting off on my newspaper route after school my mom said will you stop at the doctor's and pick up something... Continue »

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $16.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Airport Biography- General
1 Beaverton Health and Medicine- Medical Biographies
63 Local Warehouse Health and Medicine- Politics of Health Care

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


Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. Paul Farmer finds ways of connecting with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own. How does he do this? Are his methods something to which we can all aspire?

2. Paul Farmer believes that “if youre making sacrifices…youre trying to lessen some psychic discomfort” (24). Do you agree with the way that Farmer makes personal sacrifices? For what kinds of things do you make sacrifices, and when do you expect others to make them?

3. Kidder points out that Farmer is dissatisfied with the current distribution of money and medicine in the world. What is your opinion of the distribution of these forms of wealth? What would you change, if you could?

4. Farmer designed a study to find out whether there was a correlation between his Haitian patients belief in in sorcery as the cause of TB and their recovery from that disease through medical treatment. What did he discover about the relative importance of cultural beliefs among his impoverished patients and their material circumstances? Do you think that this discovery might have borad application — for instance, to situations in the United States?

5. The title of the book comes from the Haitian proverb, “Beyond mountains there are mountains.” What does the saying mean in the context of the culture it comes from, and what does it mean in relation to Farmers work? Can you think of other situations-personal or societal-for which this proverb might be apt?

6. Paul Farmer had an eccentric childhood and his accomplishments have been unique. Do you see a correlation between the way Farmer was raised and how hes chosen to live his life? How has your own background influenced your life and your decisions?

7. Compare Zanmi Lasante to the Socios en Salud project in Carabayllo. Consider how the projects got started, the relationships between doctors and patients, and also the involvement of the international community.

8. Kidder explains that Farmer and his colleagues at PIH were asked by some academics, “Why do you call your patients poor people? They dont call themselves poor people.” How do Farmer and Jim Kim confront the issue of how to speak honestly about the people they work to help? How do they learn to speak honestly with each other, and what is the importance of the code words and acronyms that they share (for example, AMCs, or Areas of Moral Clarity)?

9. Ophelia Dahl and Tom White both play critical roles in this book and in the story Partners in Health . How are their acts of compassion different from Farmers?

10. Tracy Kidder has written elsewhere that the choice of point of view is the most important an author makes in constructing a work of narrative non-fiction. He has also written that finding a point of view that works is a matter of making a choice among tools, and that the choice should be determined, not by theory, but by an authors immersion in the materials of the story itself. Kidder has never before written a book in which he made himself a character. Can you think of some of the reasons he might have had for doing this in Mountains Beyond Mountains?

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 19 comments:

lychfa, January 4, 2012 (view all comments by lychfa)
Paul Farmer's life story has changed my understanding of poverty, access to health care and the affordability of life saving drugs.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
reader1221, January 11, 2011 (view all comments by reader1221)
Amazing, inspiring, thought-provoking, and for me personally, life-changing. One of the best examples I can think of regarding what one person is capable of, the difference one individual can make on the world. Expertly written, with some of the best vocab of any book I've read recently. Dense with details, so it isn't a particularly fast read, but is fascinating throughout and certainly worth reading.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Jeff Kleen, January 3, 2011 (view all comments by Jeff Kleen)
Tracy Kidder provides an amazing and inspiring account of Paul Farmer's work in Haiti and beyond. In light of the recent earthquake in Haiti, this book is as timely as ever.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 19 comments

Product Details

Kidder, Tracy
Random House Trade
Medical - Physicians
General Biography
General science
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.98x5.58x.74 in. .54 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Pathologies of Power: Health, Human...
    Used Trade Paper $15.00
  2. The End of Poverty: Economic...
    Used Trade Paper $8.50
  3. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission...
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  4. The Zombie Curse: A Doctor's 25-Year... New Hardcover $25.75
  5. The End of Poverty: Economic... Used Hardcover $4.50
  6. Dreams from My Father: A Story of...
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Medical
Featured Titles » Bestsellers
Featured Titles » Biography
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » History and Social Science
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Biographies
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Politics of Health Care
History and Social Science » Latin America » Haiti
History and Social Science » World History » Caribbean

Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Random House Trade Paperbacks - English 9780812973013 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Beautifully told, and entirely inspiring, Mountains Beyond Mountains is an exceptional look at the heroic life of Dr. Paul Farmer. Providing health care for hundreds of thousands in a remote, impoverished region of Haiti, Farmer's incomparable dedication brings change not only to the lives he touches directly, but to the efficacy of health care around the globe. Tracy Kidder compellingly proves that one person can make a difference, in this case in Herculean ways. Why read about a pioneering doctor out to change the world? It will change your outlook on humanity and move you to evaluate your place within it.

"Review" by , "In this excellent work, Pulitzer Prize-winner Kidder immerses himself in and beautifully explores the rich drama that exists in the life of Dr. Paul Farmer....Throughout, Kidder captures the almost saintly effect Farmer has on those whom he treats."
"Review" by , "[A] skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being."
"Review" by , "A fine writer and his extraordinary subject: Tracy Kidder, in giving us Paul Farmer, lifts up an image of hope — and challenge — that the world urgently needs. Simply put, this is an important book."
"Review" by , "A profoundly inspiring and important book about one of the truly great men of our time."
"Review" by , "Saints are notoriously difficult people, but who knew one could be so funny, so utterly charming, and finally so deft in accomplishing that most impossible of all job descriptions — changing the world? Tracy Kidder's spellbinding story presents us with an unlikely saint and finally, with inspiration so compelling it makes the usual cynicism about global change seem indulgent foolishness."
"Review" by , "An incredible story about an incredible man told by an incredible writer. Mountains Beyond Mountains is the sort of book that makes you want to buy a hundred copies and pass them out like a street corner evangelist. It's the sort of book that will affect your life in a profound way. In a good way."
"Review" by , "On every page, I wondered whether Farmer was going to be meek and gentle, as he often is with his patients, or whether he was going to turn his wrath on me, the reader. To the very end, Farmer made me nervous."
"Review" by , "Mountains Beyond Mountains is inspiring, disturbing, daring and completely absorbing. It will rattle our complacency; it will prick our conscience."
"Review" by , "In this masterpiece, Kidder will take you so deep into their journeys that you can almost feel the oppressive Haitian heat."
  • back to top


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