Tracy Kidder’s ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains’ selected for fall ’07 SU Shared Reading Program
Tracy Kidder’s ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains’ selected for fall ’07 SU Shared Reading ProgramFebruary 07, 2007Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
The Syracuse University Shared Reading Program has chosen Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder’s “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World” (Random House, 2003) as its title for fall 2007.
Selected by Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina on the recommendation of a review committee of faculty and staff members, the book exemplifies the values of Scholarship in Action as it portrays the commitment to academic excellence, broad intellectual interests and service to humanity of Paul Farmer, a renowned infectious-disease specialist and MacArthur Fellow.
The Shared Reading Program was created to give first-year and transfer students a common, memorable first-year experience. Now in its fifth year, the program has evolved to become an opportunity for students new to Syracuse University to experience the core values of Scholarship in Action: academic excellence, interdisciplinary inquiry and engagement with the world.
“This year’s shared reading selection shows how intellectual curiosity that crosses traditional disciplines, together with a willingness to engage the world, make it possible to have a tremendous, positive impact on the lives of others,” says Spina. “In this story, we hope our students find parallels with their own life experiences and that Farmer’s life will provide a template for their own goals and aspirations.”
The Syracuse University Bookstore will mail copies of the book to all first-year and transfer students, who are expected to read the book before their arrival and to participate in lectures, discussions and related assignments as part of Syracuse Welcome 2007 and throughout the academic year.
The book details Farmer’s unconventional upbringing and explains how, while in medical school, he decided to devote his life to finding cures for infectious diseases. “Mountains Beyond Mountains” follows Farmer’s travels from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba and Russia as his dedication to the philosophy that “the only real nation is humanity” leads him to establish Partners in Health (http://www.pih.org/home.html), a public charity dedicated to fighting disease, founded with help from the Gates Foundation, philanthropist George Soros, the United Nations’ World Health Organization and others.
In “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” author Kidder, who will visit campus next fall as a speaker in the University Lectures series, shows how radical change can be fostered in situations that seem insurmountable and how taking the road less traveled can lead to great, unexpected rewards and deep understanding about the human condition. The book exemplifies a life based on hope and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb “Beyond mountains there are mountains”: as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one, too.
Kidder won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his second book, “The Soul of a New Machine” (Little, Brown, 1981). Two of his other books, “House” (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) and “Among Schoolchildren” (Houghton Mifflin, 1989), were nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
The shared reading program, led by SU’s Office of Academic Affairs, is part of Syracuse Welcome 2007, the University’s signature orientation program for new students.