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About this product
- SynopsisWinner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication. Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg --the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.
- AuthorAnne Fadiman
- Number Of Pages360 pages
- Publication Date1998-09-30
- PublisherFarrar, Straus & Giroux
- Copyright Date1998
- Weight0.4 Oz
- Height0.9 In.
- Width5.5 In.
- Length8.3 In.
- LC Classification NumberRA418.5.T73
- Dewey Decimal306.461
- Dewey Edition22
- Reviews"Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different." --Richard Berstein, The New York Times "So good I want to somehow make it required reading...The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores issues of culture, immigration, medicine, and the war in [Laos] with such skill that it's nearly impossible to put down." --Linnea Lannon, The Detroit Free Press "This is a captivating riveting book--a must-read not only for medical professionals, anthropologists, and journalists, but for anyone interested in how to negotiate cultural difference in a shrinking world. Fadiman's ability to empathize with the resolutely independent Hmong as well as with the remarkable doctors, caseworkers, and officials of Merced County makes her narrative both richly textured and deeply illuminating. Sometimes the stakes here are multicultural harmony and understanding; sometimes they're literally life and death--whether in wartime Laos or in American emergency rooms. But whatever the stakes and wherever the setting, Fadiman's reporting is meticulous, and prose is a delight. From start to finish, a truly impressive achievement." --Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It
Most relevant reviews
- adamwoelkJul 02, 2009by
A crosscultural paradigm shift
Not many books show and tell in such excellent detail a story about crosscultural interactions, especially within the realm of medicine. In reading the bok it helps bring out any ethnocentric opinions one might have when dealing with other cultures. It is quickly discovered how different two people can view the world as the author takes the reader into the world of the Hmong, a displaced, abused, proud people. She shows clearly the conflict of them as displaced people in a foreign land with a worldview, which is 180 degrees opposite theirs, as well as showing the frustration and difficulty experieced by the medical professionals in handling the Hmong.
There are always "must reads" out there. I acquired the book for a required reading for first year medical school, and I have to readily say that it is a must read for all, because in medicine in this day and age we must all work with cultures quite unlike our own. This book opens the eyes to the reality and validity of the views and beliefs of those around us, though worlds apart. Upon reading the book you will not be able to view any other culture, including your own, in the same light again. It has been truly humbling to me, someone that has worked on several different continents, among vastly different cultures.Read full review
- jenthehessFeb 22, 2016by
Compelling topic, excellent writing
Fadiman is brilliant, telling both sides of this heartbreaking story with compassion.
Verified purchase: Yes | Condition: Pre-owned
- 179806082@delet...May 03, 2009by
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadima
This book gives an insight into a culture different from our own. This happened in the town I live in and I'm familiar with the doctors and hospitals mentioned which added interest. In my job I deal with the Hmong and this very poignant story gave me exactly what I needed at the time I was dealing with a medical issue of one of my Hmong students. The chapters are paralleled with the Hmong history and what the family and little girl were experiencing in the western world and the clash of those cultures. Read this book when it came out and bought this book for my daughter who is joining the ranks of teaching. I would recommend this book to help develop cultural sensitivity.
- lns566466May 01, 2009by
A must read!!!
In a cuturally diverse world, cultural competency is something we should all strive for. This book provides an excellent example of 2 cultures clashing in a critical time in a child's life. And this happens here everyday. I learned about the Hmong culture, as well as discovering myself and my beliefs and values. Very easy to read; I could not put it down!
- link2savingsAug 25, 2010by
Very Fast Shipment and Like New Book
The book is in spanking brand new condition and I bought it for a very great price! No signs of wear and tear, no bent pages.. I've only purchased two books online from Ebay so far and both of them have been in almost BRAND NEW condition! I am a very satisfied buyer! Thanks!