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In the tradition of the best writing on human behaviour and moral choices in the face of disaster, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing. In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are for the impact of large-scale disasters - and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms our understanding of human nature in crisis.
Sheri Fink's reporting has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the Overseas Press Club Lowell Thomas Award, among other journalism prizes. Fink, a former relief worker in disaster and conflict zones, received her MD and PhD from Stanford University. Her first book, War Hospital, is about medical professionals under siege during the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina.