Author: Jeremy N. Smith
Source: TLC Book Tours
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Today, the idea of being able to rank countries based on their healthcare and to know the main causes of death around the world seems normal to me. Amazingly, this was nearly impossible a decade ago. Chris Murray was shocked to find that WHO estimates of deaths from different causes added to more than the total of deaths. Many countries didn’t officially track births and deaths and many records reported immediate cause of death but not the ultimate cause of death (head injury, but not that it was from a car crash, for example). Murray’s intensity and expertise equipped him to solve this technical challenge, but his sometimes abrasive personality made the politics of getting his results adopted equally challenging.
This book was such an enjoyable read! I loved hearing about the different challenges Murray and his collaborators faced and how they overcame them. Both the technical challenges and the political maneuvering necessary to have their results accepted made for some fascinating reading. I thought the author did a great job including just enough detail (technical and political) to keep me interested without getting bogged down. The amount of personal information he included about the different people involved with the project was a similarly successful balancing act. I was invested in every aspect of this story.
Personally, I enjoy doing science in large part because of the opportunity it provides to make a difference in the world. Perhaps as a result, I found this account moving even though it wasn’t written particularly emotionally. I empathized with and admired Murray’s drive to get the right numbers because they could be used to improve people’s lives. I loved hearing about the actions that were taken as a result of his work. If you enjoy statistics, definitely pick this up. If you’re interested in health care and equality of access to health care around the world, but not statistics, pick it up anyway! It’s an accessible read full of interesting and surprising information.