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Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder
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Rough Sleepers

Dr. Jim O'Connell's urgent mission to bring healing to homeless people

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Narrator Tracy Kidder

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Length 8 hours 41 minutes
Language English
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The powerful story of an inspiring doctor who made a difference, by helping to create a program to care for Boston’s homeless community—by the Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times bestselling author of Mountains Beyond Mountains

“I couldn’t put Rough Sleepers down. I am left in awe of the human spirit and inspired to do better.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

 
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, BookPage, Chicago Public Library

Tracy Kidder has been described by The Baltimore Sun as “a master of the nonfiction narrative.” In Rough Sleepers, Kidder tells the story of Dr. Jim O’Connell, a gifted man who invented a community of care for a city’s unhoused population, including those who sleep on the streets—the “rough sleepers.”

After Jim O’Connell graduated from Harvard Medical School and was nearing the end of his residency at Massachusetts General, the hospital’s chief of medicine made a proposal: Would he defer a prestigious fellowship and spend a year helping to create an organization to bring health care to homeless citizens? That year turned into O’Connell’s life’s calling. Tracy Kidder spent five years following Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues as they work with thousands of homeless patients, some of whom we meet in this illuminating book. We travel with O’Connell as he navigates the city streets at night, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy, humor, and friendship to some of the city’s most endangered citizens. He emphasizes a style of medicine in which patients come first, joined with their providers in what he calls “a system of friends.”

Much as he did with Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains, Kidder explores how Jim O’Connell and a dedicated group of people have improved countless lives by facing and addressing one of American society’s most difficult problems, instead of looking away.

Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. The author of Strength in What Remains, My Detachment, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and Maine.

Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. The author of Strength in What Remains, My Detachment, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder lives in Massachusetts and Maine.

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Reviews

“Excellent . . . a detailed portrait of the lives of homeless Americans . . . [Kidder] asks us—correctly, I think—to consider that in a world of far too much cruelty, the compassionate person standing at the bottom of the cliff is part of the story too.”The Washington Post

“Excellent and immersive . . . sure-handed.”The Wall Street Journal

“To read Rough Sleepers is to confront not only the consequences of homelessness, but to wrestle with knowing that, as terrible as the problem is now, it would so be much worse if not for the sacrifices of people like O’Connell.”Los Angeles Times

“Wrenching.”The New York Times

“O’Connell is a fascinating protagonist . . . not only one of the good guys but a good guy who is vigorous, self-critical and even funny.”—Minneapolis StarTribune

“[An] uneasy portrait of the United States . . . Kidder turns his meticulous but generous eye on Jim O’Connell.”Harper’s Magazine

“A book that celebrates the great good that one man and his program have done in the face of grueling, unimaginable odds. Kidder has humanized a sprawling, thorny subject by focusing on people, not policy.”Portland Press Herald

 “Tracy Kidder has reported the hell out of important stories before, but never more finely and relentlessly. It’s a story full of hard questions, a story with many heroes.”—William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days

“The estimable Tracy Kidder has found another unsung saint—this time not in the backcountry of Haiti or in genocide-ravaged Burundi but on the streets of a major American city. And once again, he has crafted a story that sheds light on a larger landscape of injustice.”—Adam Hochschild, author of American Midnight

Rough Sleepers is yet another enlightening reminder from Kidder that we should, and can, do better.”The Christian Science Monitor

“A searching, troubling look at the terrible actualities of homelessness.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“With a straightforward scrutiny that reveals without judging, Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder offers a long, hard look at the lives of homeless people. . . . Intensely immersive.”BookPage (starred review)

“Keenly observed and fluidly written, this is a compassionate report from the front lines of one of America’s most intractable social problems.”Publishers Weekly Expand reviews
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