Five Days at MemorialSheri Fink
6 February 2014
Published by Atlantic Books
15 October 2013
Published by Atlantic Books
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.
Extraordinary... A profound and unforgettable piece of journalism
Gripping... an illuminating investigation into the chaos that consumed a hospital during Hurricane Katrina... It reminds an international audience that literature can soar to artistic and intellectual heights undreamed of in other realms of media.
[A] superb and remarkable book... Gripping
Mail on Sunday
A tight, provocative and gripping read
An impressive and important book
Masterfully and compassionately reported and as gripping as a thriller, the book poses reverberating questions about end-of-life care, race discrimination in medicine and how individuals and institutions break down during disasters.
New York Times
In this astonishing blend of Pulitzer-Prize winning journalism and breathtaking narration, [Fink] chronicles the chaotic evacuation of the hospital and the agonizing ethical, physical and emotional quandaries facing Memorial nurses and doctors
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Fink offers a stunning re-creation of the storm, its aftermath, and the investigation that followed... Both a breathtaking read and an essential book for understanding how people behave in times of crisis
Booklist, Starred Review
Fink draws those few days in the hospital's life with a fine, lively pen, providing stunningly framed vignettes of activities in the hospital and sharp pocket profiles of many of the characters
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review