A Doctor’s Story Book Review

“A Doctor’s Story” written by a prominent author William T. Close is a fascinating and compelling story where a keen reader can find both fear and courage, amusing and awesome details of a remarkable journey. It is the truly personal drama of one doctor who has shown unbelievable view on medicine in today’s high-tech world.

In the book Dr. William Close shares lots of unique and captivating stories written on the ground of his medical practical researches in New York, Wyoming, and Congo. Most readers consider his fascinating stories about his journey to Africa to be the most interesting and valuable. He depicts the results of his being in pre-independent Belgian Congo where he worked firstly as a surgeon in Kinshasa hospital, later in independent Zaire, as a personal physician of President Mobutu. His perspective as a physician gives him a hint concerning the end of colonialism in Central Africa, and the beginning of the chaos and collapse in Zaire. There is also a really touching chapter is of a security guard, elderly veteran of World War II. He tells to a doctor about his wish to see his dying wife, just because he wanted to tell his grandchildren that a doctor examined her before she died. The stories about a journey to Mobutu depict a man in a very different way comparing with how it is typically done; evidently even dictators have good side.

In A Doctor’s Story: Unique Stories, Dr. William Close is a medical memoir containing materials after fifty years as a physician and surgeon in
“Hell’s Kitchen”, 16 years in Africa’s brutal Congo. Apart from this the book is based on the experience as a country doctor in Wyoming. The book contains broad observation of patients and some notable characters, casualties of Congo’s Civil war, old people in rural areas expecting the end of their lives at home. “A Doctor’s Story” is considered to be a highly recommended reading, intended for people interested in medicine of Africa.

A newer version of the book is entitled “A Doctor’s Life”. It is enriched with two new chapters and lots of photos. You’ll find much more stories about different unusual patients and cases. As was already mentioned it is a story of a doctor who, using the most undeveloped, primitive equipment, made various kinds of procedures in the African outback. It is so far removed from highly technological medicine, as the majority of people know it these days. The variety of characters range from violent, always political affairs of civil authorities of Congo in Africa to quite people of a small Wyoming community. Everything is there. “A Doctor’s Life” is an example of the tragic, the pitiful, the hilarious, the truly sympathetic. It is sometimes called a trilogy in a single book: New York, then Africa, and Wyoming. It’s a really exciting, human account of William Close and his deep insight into the world of medicine on the whole and human condition in particular. Readers find it witty, inspiring and amazingly true to life. Its vividness makes the reader feel as if he was going through all the troubles and adventures on his own. The only complaint that could ever appear in the mind of a reader is that it’s not as long as it’s wished to be.

“A Doctor’s Life: Unique Stories” is a gripping, touching and sometimes funny true-to-life depiction of the so-called odyssey of Dr. William T. Close. His experiences don’t show off very much. The author is a humanitarian and can be also called a practical idealist, who shows deep engagement in the problems of his fellow human beings.

But there’s much more! This book is not just a collection of stories about an incredible man’s life. The cases and circumstances illustrated with the descriptions of Dr. Close’s patients make readers pay attention to the human side of the medicine. Dr. Close so effectively illustrates individuals working in the field of medicine that it is the patient whose health crash makes the medical team be compassionate and pitiful. Without any doubt Dr. Close teaches us much more than just a disease itself, more than “a case to be plugged into a treatment protocol”.

The esteem for human life is especially evident in the stories about rural medicine of Big Piney in Wyoming. It’s here when Dr. Close describes the necessity of spending the time with patients for good care and seeing them in their homes, particularly at the end of their lives.

The stories of the book can be helpful for those who start a hard way of nurses and medical workers, whose aim lies first of all in being helpful and understanding to patients, no matter what kind of disease they have. These messages inspire many doctors who practice medicine and try to learn more about taking care of their patients with compassion and expertise, for the patient’s sake, and for the experience of a healer.

Readers say that “A Doctor’s Life” is a dedicated, passionate and honorable. Everyone who reads this book will be entertained and inspired. Though Dr Close’s encounters sometimes prove that it’s not always the best medicine, based on scientific knowledge, but it’s an art of a healer. In “Tata Felix”,  he shows the frankness and warmth, and demonstrates how powerful a simple action can be. In his Wyoming anecdotes, he convinces that though knowledge without compassion can probably cure, it doesn’t really heal. These stories are well-written, the real-life characters vivid in your mind. Many stories leave you with distinct impression that from this you’ve learned something particularly important and profound for being a doctor, who listens to his patients with dignity, sensitive and caring. The stories are touching, especially the little African boy who makes friends with chimpanzee. The book is rather easy to read despite the healing descriptions.

William T. Close has lived a life in medicine. His exciting and powerful odysseys were sometimes dangerous due to his extraordinary practice in the very heart of Africa. He learned the importance of treating patients with care and to listen to people and understand that their needs were deeper than what modern medical practice could cure. Dr. Close learned to be a healer, in spite of challenges faced in the countries and hardships in the depth of cities.

The first part of the book is series of 8 anecdotes from the years 1947 to 1960, covering Dr. Close’s practicing in New York City. Pilot Close flew in a troop carrier squadron in Normandy soon after invasion. His US and Harvard grades are too low to be admitted to medical school. It made Close attend Columbia night school and to elicit a recommendation from his father in law.

The years of 1960 – 1976 are related in the episodes of Part 2. Part 3 carries the reader to present day as Dr. Close continues working.

In “A Doctor’s Life” Dr. Close presents a very entertaining picture of a doctor who faced life with humor and passion. Close’s narrative is readable and fills the reader with a good feeling for having read it. Some of the people Dr. Close treated were not of the ‘upper society’. All are presented in an absorbing manner by a writer who obviously has enjoyed a life, being engaged in work he loves.

Expanded and revised edition of the author’s text was first printed in 1996. A Memoir of the doctor’s career is told with grace, humor and wit. As Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Fellow of so called American Academy of Family Physicians William T. Close depicted his stories really professional. He also became the personal physician of president and chief doctor in the Congolese Army.

Through his practice, for instance, teaching and writing, Dr. Close exemplifies professional ideals which combine excellent scientific knowledge with compassionate care. His contributions to the profession include lectures and writings that tug at the hearts of patients, nurses and doctors. He has been an inspiration to young people who are entering the profession at a time when patient need first of all love and care.

Dr. Close is now in his 50th year of medical practice and he continues to examine his patients in what he usually calls “a gentle, limited practice” and his book “A Doctor’s Story” is still considered to be the most prominent example of such way of treatment.