Book review: Saving Jimani

I eagerly agreed to review Saving Jimani when asked. Who doesn't love a good emergency drama story, after all? I'm an ER nurse. Of course I like reading about nurses in emergencies. Usually. In this case, I have to do something I hate: write a bad review of a book I wish I liked.

The book recounts author Rene Steinhauer's service in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. It seques into long didactic passages about disaster response theory and practice as well as trauma physiology, both too basic to interest those who have had any exposure to either and too in-depth to interest those who haven't. It describes the great personal sacrifice and achievements of the men and women who volunteered. It follows the trajectory of several memorable people and patients.

All of that is passably interesting, although feeble compared with what I anticipated from the publicity; unfortunately, the author's unfettered self-aggrandizement and the book's many punctuation and spelling errors make the read a labored one.

I tried to like this author. I really did. However, I ended up with an active distaste by page 12, and by the halfway point it had intensified. Statements such as "these are the doctors who practice real medicine" (p. 64), pursuant to an entire paragraph about the volunteer doctors, serve no evident purpose other than to demean everyone else. I found myself thinking, "yes, yes, we know you're awesome," and it became intrusive.

If the book had really been about the earthquake and what it was like to volunteer there, I would probably have liked it. It isn't. It is a book about how wonderful Rene Steinhauer is. He may be, too. I certainly appreciate his existence and his dedication. The blatant egotism is just too choking.

In summary, the book I read is more like a first draft. With proper editing and copyediting, it might achieve some distinction. As is stands, I don't really see a place for it. Read more about the author here and the book here (Amazon link); read the reviews there, as I am clearly an outlier.