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About Tracy Kidder
Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. The author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, My Detachment, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and Maine.
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In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Tracy Kidder’s magnificent account shows how one person can make a difference in solving global health problems through a clear-eyed understanding of the interaction of politics, wealth, social systems, and disease. Profound and powerful, Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes people’s minds through his dedication to the philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity.”
Praise for Mountains Beyond Mountains
“A true-to-life fairy tale, one that inspires you to believe in happy endings . . . Its stark sense of reality comes as much from the grit between the pages as from the pure gold those pages spin.”—Laura Claridge, Boston Sunday Globe
“Stunning . . . Mountains Beyond Mountains will move you, restore your faith in the ability of one person to make a difference in these increasingly maddening, dispiriting times.”—John Wilkens, The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Easily the most fascinating, most entertaining and, yes, most inspiring work of nonfiction I’ve read this year.”—Charles Matthews, San Jose Mercury News
“It’ll fill you equally with wonder and hope.”—Cathy Burke, People
“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.”—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“[A] skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Computers have changed since 1981, when The Soul of a New Machine first examined the culture of the computer revolution. What has not changed is the feverish pace of the high-tech industry, the go-for-broke approach to business that has caused so many computer companies to win big (or go belly up), and the cult of pursuing mind-bending technological innovations.
The Soul of a New Machine is an essential chapter in the history of the machine that revolutionized the world in the twentieth century.
"Fascinating...A surprisingly gripping account of people at work." --Wall Street Journal
Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle •Chicago Tribune • The Christian Science Monitor • Publishers Weekly
In Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder gives us the story of one man’s inspiring American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him, providing brilliant testament to the power of second chances. Deo arrives in the United States from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life and shows us what it means to be fully human.
BONUS: This edition contains a Strength in What Remains discussion guide.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Named one of the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the year by Time • Named one of the year’s “10 Terrific Reads” by O: The Oprah Magazine
“Extraordinarily stirring . . . a miracle of human courage.”—The Washington Post
“Absorbing . . . a story about survival, about perseverance and sometimes uncanny luck in the face of hell on earth. . . . It is just as notably about profound human kindness.”—The New York Times
“Important and beautiful . . . This book is one you won’t forget.”—Portland Oregonian
Kidder was an ROTC intelligence officer, just months out of college and expecting a stateside assignment, when his orders arrived for Vietnam. There, lovesick, anxious, and melancholic, he tried to assume command of his detachment, a ragtag band of eight more-or-less ungovernable men charged with reporting on enemy radio locations.
He eventually learned not only to lead them but to laugh and drink with them as they shared the boredom, pointlessness, and fear of war. Together, they sought a ghostly enemy, homing in on radio transmissions and funneling intelligence gathered by others. Kidder realized that he would spend his time in Vietnam listening in on battle but never actually experiencing it.
With remarkable clarity and with great detachment, Kidder looks back at himself from across three and a half decades, confessing how, as a young lieutenant, he sought to borrow from the tragedy around him and to imagine himself a romantic hero. Unrelentingly honest, rueful, and revealing, My Detachment gives us war without heroism, while preserving those rare moments of redeeming grace in the midst of lunacy and danger. The officers and men of My Detachment are not the sort of people who appear in war movies–they are the ones who appear only in war, and they are unforgettable.
Good Prose is an inspiring book about writing—about the creation of good prose—and the record of a warm and productive literary friendship. The story begins in 1973, in the offices of The Atlantic Monthly, in Boston, where a young freelance writer named Tracy Kidder came looking for an assignment. Richard Todd was the editor who encouraged him. From that article grew a lifelong association. Before long, Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine, the first book the two worked on together, had won the Pulitzer Prize. It was a heady moment, but for Kidder and Todd it was only the beginning of an education in the art of nonfiction.
Good Prose explores three major nonfiction forms: narratives, essays, and memoirs. Kidder and Todd draw candidly, sometimes comically, on their own experience—their mistakes as well as accomplishments—to demonstrate the pragmatic ways in which creative problems get solved. They also turn to the works of a wide range of writers, novelists as well as nonfiction writers, for models and instruction. They talk about narrative strategies (and about how to find a story, sometimes in surprising places), about the ethical challenges of nonfiction, and about the realities of making a living as a writer. They offer some tart and emphatic opinions on the current state of language. And they take a clear stand against playing loose with the facts. Their advice is always grounded in the practical world of writing and publishing.
Good Prose—like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style—is a succinct, authoritative, and entertaining arbiter of standards in contemporary writing, offering guidance for the professional writer and the beginner alike. This wise and useful book is the perfect companion for anyone who loves to read good books and longs to write one.
Praise for Good Prose
“Smart, lucid, and entertaining.”—The Boston Globe
“You are in such good company—congenial, ironic, a bit old-school—that you’re happy to follow [Kidder and Todd] where they lead you.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[A] well-structured, to-the-point, genuinely useful, and fun-to-read guide to writing narrative nonfiction, essays, and memoir . . . Crisp, informative, and mind-expanding.”—Booklist
“A gem . . . The finer points of creative nonfiction are molded into an inspiring read that will affect the would-be writer as much as Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird or Stephen King’s On Writing. . . . This is a must read for nonfiction writers.”—Library Journal
“As approachable and applicable as any writing manual available.”—Associated Press
Ninety-year-old Lou quit school after the eighth grade, worked for the rest of his life, and stayed with the same woman for nearly seventy years. Seventy-two-year-old Joe was chief probation officer in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, holds a law degree, and has faced the death of a son and the raising of a mentally challenged daughter. Now, the two men are roommates in a nursing home. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, the two become close friends.
Focusing on these two men as well as introducing us to the other aging residents of Linda Manor in Northampton, Massachusetts, literary journalist Tracy Kidder examines the sorrows and joys of growing older and the universal struggle to find meaning in the face of mortality. From the New York Times–bestselling author and National Book Award–winning author of The Soul of a New Machine, this is an extraordinary look inside an often-hidden world.
“As in his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Soul of a New Machine, House, and the best-selling Among Schoolchildren, Kidder reveals his extraordinary talent as a storyteller by taking the potentially unpalatable subject of life in a nursing home and making it into a highly readable, engrossing account.” —Library Journal
“Rich detail and true-to-the-ear dialogue let the brave and determined elderly speak for themselves—and for the continually surprising potential of the human spirit.” —Kirkus Reviews
Tracy Kidder's critically acclaimed adult nonfiction work, Mountains Beyond Mountains has been adapted for young people by Michael French. In this young adult edition, readers are introduced to Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard-educated doctor with a self-proclaimed mission to transform healthcare on a global scale. Farmer focuses his attention on some of the world's most impoverished people and uses unconventional ways in which to provide healthcare, to achieve real results and save lives.
Mrs. Zajac is feisty, funny, and tough. She likes to call herself an “old-lady teacher.” (She is thirty-four.) Around Kelly School, she is infamous for her discipline: “She is mean, bro,” says one of her students. But children love her, and so will the reader of this extraordinarily moving book by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of House and The Soul of a New Machine.
Tracy Kidder spent nine months in Mrs. Zajac’s fifth-grade classroom in a depressed area of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Living among the twenty schoolchildren and their indomitable teacher, he shared their joys, catastrophes, and small but essential triumphs. His resulting New York Times bestseller is a revelatory and remarkably poignant account of an inner-city school that “erupts with passionate life,” and a close-up examination of what is wrong—and right—with education in America (USA Today).
“More than a book about needy children and a valiant teacher; it is full of the author’s genuine love, delight and celebration of the human condition. He has never used his talent so well.” —The New York Times
It’s 1983 and Jonathan and Judith Souweine are ready to build their forever home on a four-acre lot just outside of Amherst, Massachusetts. A lawyer and a psychologist, neither has much experience with the process. In this New York Times bestseller, Tracy Kidder leads readers through the grand adventure of building the American dream.
In his portrayal, constructing a staircase or applying a coat of paint becomes a riveting tale of conflicting wills, the strength and strain of relationships, and pride in craftsmanship. With drama, sensitivity, and insight, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of the New Machine takes us from blueprints to moving day. In the process, he sheds new light on objects usually taken for granted and creates a vivid cast of characters you will not soon forget.
“Tracy Kidder has done it again. . . . What might seem like ordinary work takes on an extraordinary, unpredictable life of its own. The subject is fascinating, the book a remarkable piece of craftsmanship in itself.” —Chicago Tribune Book World
“Kidder makes us feel with a splendid intensity the complex web of relationships and emotions that inevitably comes into play in the act of bringing a work of architecture to fruition.” —The New York Times Book Review