Cover Image: Our Malady

Our Malady

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed how this book touched on important issues in the world of medical facilities. It spoke about America's instability and frankly, 𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 to provide care for its citizens. Meanwhile, it also speaks about the standards of hospitals worldwide, whether they be relatively bad or good. I am very thankful to the author, TImothy Snyder, for coming out with their story and speaking about their experience and treatment by doctors in multiple countries. The book opened my eyes to a new perspective on the care that doctors and nurses should, and do provide. 

This may have been my nonexistent level of intellectuality, but I felt that this book seemed to be all over the place. It seemed that the writing covered multiple topics at once, when the book could easily have been a little longer to provide a more meaningful insight into the author's thoughts. I wish their writing/thoughts were more cohesive, or that the book followed a different organizational system. 
"Our Malady" is not something that I can exactly rate in numbers, but this was an interesting look into the collective struggle we face and how highly we are and could be impacted by our surroundings/peers.

ᴛʜᴀɴᴋ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛᴏ ɴᴇᴛɢᴀʟʟᴇʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴜʙʟɪꜱʜᴇʀ ꜰᴏʀ ɢʀᴀɴᴛɪɴɢ ᴍᴇ ᴀᴄᴄᴇꜱꜱ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜɪꜱ ʙᴏᴏᴋ.
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**I received an advanced readers copy of this book through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Snyder personally faces a near death experience while needing healthcare in December 2019. As he lay recuperating in the hospital, he reflects on the current healthcare situation in America, compares it to other countries and their networks of care, and offers solutions or at least places to begin dialogue regarding healthcare, healthcare workers, and the overall safety of hospital personnel and patients.

This is a treatise that needs to be read. Snyder does not hold back on his critique of the healthcare system, a system that, depending upon which hospital he visited on the East Coast, provided different levels of care, and most scarily, different diagnoses that left him very close to death. It's a short book, but yet it's a book that describes the pitfalls in the US healthcare system and the dangers faced with lack of staff, many overworked staff, and the lack of funding and/or support needed for care. Snyder is eloquent in his arguments, and whether or not you agree with him, there is much to learn from this.
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Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book via netgalley!

This is the second book I read by this author. And another book that hits it right where our society is hurting. This book explains that there is a clear malady in our society in regards to our health care system. It explains how it can be fixed with simple concepts. The author clearly and simply explain everything making it easy for readers to grasp and understand the ailments of our society and how to fix it.
Glad the author recovered from his own close encounter with the Heath care system!
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The author used his own near death experience to detail the issues with for profit healthcare and how it is harming America.  I thought this book had a great balance of the author's experience and facts about how we can move forward and more importantly what got us to this point.
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Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary by Timothy Snyder is just under 200 pages. While it’s not long, it covers topics we all face daily whether we know it or not—our health and freedom. A Yale professor, historian, and writer, Snyder was not well at the end of 2019. He made multiple visits to Emergency Departments in various hospitals in the U.S. and Europe.

This treatise is both memoir and thoughtful discussion about the intersection of medicine, health, and politics. First, Snyder introduces the term malady. It’s not a part of most people’s general vocabulary but the definition is simple. It’s either a disease of the body or a general disordered condition, especially of a society or group.

So, you can have a disease like appendicitis (as Snyder did) and also live in a society with a malfunctioning and disadvantageous health care system. Add to that the way politics is embroiled in health care and thus encroaches on our freedom to be physically well. Stir the topics together and you’ve got the basic premise of this book.

Personal memoir
Snyder’s own tale of medical woes is a scary one. Because he’s traveling for other reasons, he bounces from hospital to hospital. In the U.S., his doctors are overworked and have approximately two minutes to meet and treat him. While some of his health issues are properly diagnosed and treated, not everything is addressed. So, the resulting complications become life-threatening.

Snyder compares this experience to his previous ones in European hospitals and doctor’s offices. In countries where medicine isn’t a for-profit endeavor, the care is remarkably different than where it’s about profit. Doctors spend time discussing not just your current concern but your life in general. They show genuine concern. Mothers spend more time in the hospital after giving birth. They have support while they learn to nurse their babes, among other things.

During his extended recovery, Snyder confronts his own mortality. And then he starts thinking about why the United States does medicine the way it does.

Health care in the U.S. versus freedom
Because of his illness, Snyder realizes that health and freedom are intertwined. If we have our health, we are free to do many more things. We feel secure in our lives and the world around us. In Snyder’s mind, tying politics to health care increases pain, suffering, and death. Requiring that profits sustain the system only help the few at the top, while hurting the rest of us. Instead, he says, gaining security and health should be the goal. But that’s not how our system works. And it’s only getting worse as time passes.

Written as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, Our Malady also discusses the overall failures to manage it effectively. Thinking about freedom as a country facing 1,000 deaths a day, with continual outbreaks and quarantines seems obvious. Our health care system and our society center on individualism not on collective solidarity, as Snyder sees it. And this is doing us a disservice, both as citizens and as a country.

Drawing connections to history
Snyder’s historical speciality is Central and Eastern Europe and the Holocaust. So, when he includes illustrations from history they’re chilling. For example, when the Nazi regime forced Jews into ghettos, they also cut off their access to health care. And then the malady increased as propaganda told Germans and tourists that Jews spread disease.

Overall, the twentieth century is full of frightening examples where regimes treat health as a privilege instead of a right. It’s typical of the authoritarian mindset, and the antithesis of actual health, security, and well-being. Snyder posits that this puts pain (for many) and wealth (for a few) before health. And politicians or businesses who guard their own purse before their fellow citizens aren’t offering freedom. They’re offering tyranny.

My conclusions
I’ve highlighted many passages in my advance copy ebook. I wish I could share more of them with you, but it’s not possible until the book is final and published. Snyder takes complex concepts and blends them with examples. That makes it easier to follow and absorb. But his words are strong. He’s not afraid to put himself out there and make clear that this path is dangerous. Like his previous books, Our Malady is a cautionary tale.

I recommend this to anyone whose primary political campaign issue is health care. It’s mine. And now I have more ways to argue my points with people who see things differently. I’m grateful Snyder gathered his thoughts while his body was healing, so that hopefully we can use them to heal the U.S. healthcare malady.

Thanks to NetGalley, Crown Publishing, and the author the opportunity to read a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review.
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Illuminating, impassioned, and highly depressing. Timothy Snyder writes about public and private health through the lens of his own near-disastrous experience with modern American healthcare. He writes with clarity about the harm that for-profit healthcare has on Americans, both as individuals and as a society; he even offers a prescription for the type of care that could improve our lives. The depressing part is that I don’t think America has the will to make it happen.
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Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary by Timothy Snyder is a focused and thoughtful assessment of our current poor state of affairs with respect to healthcare along with ideas for remedying the situation.

Through his personal healthcare experience just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and background information on how we got to where we are, Snyder illustrates many of the flaws in both the system and our thinking about healthcare. While he also prescriptive it is not in a heavy-handed manner. He points out what can and should be done to correct a problem right after he has elaborated the problem. There may not be a quick easy fix but it is not that hard to fix if we changed from a healthcare system with profits as the goal to a healthcare system with, I dunno, maybe health as a goal.

If you tend to read books that have endnotes without always reading them, I would recommend reading them in this case. Most are still simply citations but a few are gems of clarification about a term or idea he used.

Highly recommended for anyone who cares about the United States' miserable healthcare system. Far more expensive than other countries with considerably poorer results and outcomes. Why, unless you're one of the ones profiting off of other people dying, would you support profit-driven healthcare over health driven healthcare?

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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