New Book of Lively Essays Takes on Hot Health Topics

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — The intersection of health care, politics and policy is a controversial one. A new book of lively essays takes on all of today's hot health topics: alternative medicine, swine flu, health care reform, screening mammograms, taxes to decrease soda consumption, gun control and many more.

The book, Dissecting American Health Care: Commentaries on Health, Policy, and Politics is written by former Assistant Surgeon General Douglas Kamerow, M.D., a family physician who is a chief scientist at RTI International and professor of clinical family medicine at Georgetown University. He is also a journal editor and an NPR commentator.

"In this book Doug takes on some of the most critical issues/questions in medicine and public health," said David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., former U.S. Surgeon General. "He does it with clarity, brevity and depth, and yet in a light and friendly manner."

The book combines evidence, opinion and humor in 47 essays taken from Kamerow's health policy columns in the international medical journal BMJ and his commentaries on "All Things Considered." Kamerow began writing commentaries on health care and health policy in 2007, producing about 10 essays per year.

"Kamerow strikes so many perfect notes at once," said Ranit Mishori, M.D., former health editor, Parade Magazine. "His take on the healthcare system — laid out in an insightful series of essays — is witty, informed, curious, exasperated, provocative, constructive and just plain human. You can tell he's worked in the system, that he knows whereof he speaks, and yet he never for a moment sounds jaded or even close to surrender."

Some of Kamerow's pronouncements in the book include:

  • "Guns don't kill crowds, but mentally disturbed people with high-capacity semiautomatic pistols do."
  • "The pope's job is to be the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. It would be a true blessing if he could do that without advocating policies that endanger the health of some of the world's neediest people."
  • [The furor about new mammography guidelines is] "a stinging lesson about the surprising importance and potentially devastating consequences of changing an arcane definition of an obscure rating system used by a prominent scientific advisory panel."
  • "Just as 'on the web no one knows you are a dog,' it is also true that on the web many will not know you are a charlatan or a well-meaning naïf."

"My goal in writing these commentaries has been to provide readers and listeners with thoughts and opinions on health-related issues, informed by evidence and experience," Kamerow said. "I also aimed to be interesting, provocative, and even entertaining."

"This volume succeeds on the strength of Kamerow's command of the subject and choice of persistent issues," wrote a Kirkus book review. "For anyone interested in health care and its intersection with public policy and politics...this book fills the prescription."

"It is no easy task to "dissect" American health care, but Douglas Kamerow's collection of essays does a fine job of it...a reader will undoubtedly be better informed about the complexities of health care after reading these essays, and may also feel that he or she has gained rare personal insight from a leading physician," wrote Barry Silverstein, ForeWord Reviews.

Published by RTI Press, Dissecting American Health Care: Commentaries on Health, Policy, and Politics is available on, both in Kindle and paperback.

Cover of Dissecting American Health Care


  • A new book by RTI International Chief Scientist Douglas Kamerow, M.D., discusses critical issues in medicine and public health
  • The book combines evidence, opinion and humor taken from Kamerow's health policy columns and commentaries
  • Dissecting American Health Care: Commentaries on Health, Policy, and Politics is published by RTI Press