Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary

Crown. Sept. 2020. 192p. ISBN 9780593238899. pap. $12. MED
The malady discussed here is one that Snyder (history, Yale Univ.; On Tyranny) says permeates our society. From the end of 2019 until March 2020, the author found himself intimately involved with the U.S. health care system when his appendix burst following a missed diagnosis, leading to an overlooked abscessed liver and septicemia; it brought him to the brink of death. Once able, he began journaling his experiences, feelings, and conclusions about how we care for one another. He emerged from his personal battle directly into the new world of COVID-19. With this lens, the author describes what he sees as clear evidence of disparity in health care accessibility in the United States, in which the highest spending in the world produces poor results compared with other developed countries. He argues for health care as a human right, and asserts it is not recognized as such in this country. Advocating for a universal system with medical professionals rather than insurance companies in charge, he believes, would allow patients more freedom in their health care choices.
VERDICT Snyder writes with passion and clarity, using personal observations, historical references, and case studies to raise the call for reforming the current health care system; stating that without changes, true freedom remains elusive for many.
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