The Spirit Catches You and You Fall down

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall down

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Description

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, 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 independent 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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 139.7 x 208.28 x 22.86mm | 359.99g
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Pbk.
  • 0374525641
  • 9780374525644
  • 34,544

Review quote

"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"show more