A Fortunate Man: The Story of a Country Doctor (Berger with photographs by Mohr)

It is hard to classify this book which is something I enjoy. In the end, which Berger reminds us can no way be taken as a conclusion, he does call it an essay. So, let’s call it a photoessay. Mohr’s photographs show their age. But there is an honesty to these photographs. None, if I recall correctly, are posed. They tend to show faces, eyes that often reflect the patient’s feelings about Dr. Sassall.

It’s sometimes hard to know what Berger is getting at here. Even as he notes the way Sassall flirts with paternalism, he calls the people that Sassall serves “backwards.” Though I wish the balance between the specific and the abstract had been better, Berger’s philisophical insights – based on observing Sassall work – are telling. He asks important questions. He notes things that make this doctor in this community unique and, well, fortunate. He stresses the importance of doing your work – whatever it is seriously and as well as you can. And he insists that such efforts can not be measured or extrapolated – a notion that appeals to me, as a teacher, very much.

A thoughtful and worthwhile book.

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