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His Brother's Keeper: A Story from the Edge of Medicine

His Brother's Keeper: A Story from the Edge of Medicine
New York: Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $26.95

His Brother's Keeper

Stephen Heywood was twenty-nine years old when he learned that he was dying of ALS -- Lou Gehrig's disease. Almost overnight his older brother, Jamie, turned himself into a genetic engineer in a quixotic race to cure the incurable. His Brother's Keeper is a powerful account of their story, as they travel together to the edge of medicine.

The book brings home for all of us the hopes and fears of the new biology. In this dramatic and suspenseful narrative, Jonathan Weiner gives us a remarkable portrait of science and medicine today. We learn about gene therapy, stem cells, brain vaccines, and other novel treatments for such nerve-death diseases as ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's -- diseases that afflict millions, and touch the lives of many more.

It turns out that the author has a personal stake in the story as well. When he met the Heywood brothers, his own mother was dying of a rare nerve-death disease. The Heywoods' gene therapist offered to try to save her, too.

"The Heywoods' story taught me many things about the nature of healing in the new millennium," Weiner writes. "They also taught me about what has not changed since the time of the ancients and may never change as long as there are human beings -- about what Lucretius calls 'the ever-living wound of love.'

"The Heywoods mean the whole story to me now: an allegory from the edge of medicine. A story to make us ask ourselves questions that we have to ask but do not want to ask. How much of life can we engineer? How much is permitted us?

"What would you do to save your brother's life?"

Click here for the 60 Minutes story "Saving Stephen Heywood."

See what reviewers are saying about His Brother's Keeper:
New York Times Book Review
Los Angeles Times
Philadelphia Inquirer
Publisher's Weekly
Austin American-Statesman (Texas)
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)
Entertainment Weekly
The Kansas City Star
Tampa Tribune (Florida)

"Exquisitely rendered....Gripping....A phenomenal job of reporting." {more} - New York Times Book Review

"His Brother's Keeper is a fascinating and beautiful book, and a deeply moving human story." - Richard Preston, bestselling author of The Hot Zone and The Cobra Event

"At the heart of this report from the front lines of gene therapy and other regenerative medicine lies a simple, heartbreaking question: 'What would you do to save your brother's life?'....A powerful account of equal parts ambition and hope." {more} - Publishers Weekly

"Weiner allows his readers to visit the very frontiers of medical science and to contemplate the oldest of human loyalties....At once unsentimentally candid and humanely affirmative....A poignant and probing look at both the potential and the limitations of pioneering medicine." {more} - Booklist, starred review

"His Brother's Keeper fulfills the potential of every great science story. It delves into the perfect mysteries of planet Earth while giving voice to how our species struggles with imperfection. It lifts high the data, then celebrates it with writing that lists toward poetry. It is only appropriate that Weiner's rendering leaves his reader both sadder and more hopeful." {more} - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A compelling new look at a family engulfed by an illness and the parallel world (brave, new and often controversial) of medical research." {more} - Kansas City Star

"A captivating, suspenseful narrative, full of complex, fascinating characters and loads of pathos." {more} - Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Weiner has combined his knowledge of science with insights into family dynamics to produce a touching and almost unbelievable true story. "His Brother's Keeper"...will give you hope for the future, knowing that there are men such as Jamie Heywood who live by a credo, "If I think there is even a possibility, I can't not do it." It will also leave you with a warm feeling about how one particular family came together during a time of great crisis." {more} - Tampa Tribune

"An eloquent and engrossing story that's equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful--a very human tale of superhuman will in a molecular world." {more} - Entertainment Weekly

"His Brother's Keeper" manages a consistency of tone that's based in solid reporting and bottomless humanity." {more} - Austin American Statesman

"Weiner's descriptions of the ups and downs of stem-cell research, gene therapy, and the ethics of end-of-life experimental treatments grippingly convey the effect of scientific inquiry on regular people." {more} - Library Journal

"Fascinating and moving." {more} - Ottawa Citizen

"Gripping...Despite setbacks and defeats, this is a story about hope, and though I will not reveal the book's ending, it concludes on a heartening note. It is a note that doesn't depend on miracle cures but arises from the resilience of the human spirit." {more} - Raleigh News and Observer

"Fine and moving....His Brother's Keeper may focus on the promise of science, but the mystery of transcendence also speaks from its pages loud and clear." {more} - Scientific American

"Jonathan Weiner's His Brother's Keeper: A Story from the Edge of Medicine only confirms Weiner's status as one of the leading (and humane) science writers working today....Fascinating reading.." {more} - KUOW-FM (NPR, Seattle)

"Superb....a plot as finely crafted as that of the best novels." {more} - Washington Post

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