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Four hours. That was the amount of time between looking down the barrel of a gun and finding myself free along a silent highway lined by cotton fields. In the time period that seemed eternal, my unique experiences as a doctor created an indescribable bond between myself and my captor. I looked upon the situation just as I looked upon a medical emergency: I took a deep brea Four hours. That was the amount of time between looking down the barrel of a gun and finding myself free along a silent highway lined by cotton fields. In the time period that seemed eternal, my unique experiences as a doctor created an indescribable bond between myself and my captor. I looked upon the situation just as I looked upon a medical emergency: I took a deep breath, hid my panic, and tried to solve the situation. In March 2005, Dr. Steven Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Dr. Berk’s experiences and training as a physician, especially his understanding of Sir William Osler’s treatise on aequanimitas, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice. This harrowing story is not just about a kidnapping. It is a story about patients, about physicians, and about what each experience has taught Berk about life and death, mistakes, family, the practice of medicine, and the physician-patient relationship. It is a story about how Berk's profession prepared him for an unpredictable situation and how any doctor must address life’s uncertainties.


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Four hours. That was the amount of time between looking down the barrel of a gun and finding myself free along a silent highway lined by cotton fields. In the time period that seemed eternal, my unique experiences as a doctor created an indescribable bond between myself and my captor. I looked upon the situation just as I looked upon a medical emergency: I took a deep brea Four hours. That was the amount of time between looking down the barrel of a gun and finding myself free along a silent highway lined by cotton fields. In the time period that seemed eternal, my unique experiences as a doctor created an indescribable bond between myself and my captor. I looked upon the situation just as I looked upon a medical emergency: I took a deep breath, hid my panic, and tried to solve the situation. In March 2005, Dr. Steven Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Dr. Berk’s experiences and training as a physician, especially his understanding of Sir William Osler’s treatise on aequanimitas, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice. This harrowing story is not just about a kidnapping. It is a story about patients, about physicians, and about what each experience has taught Berk about life and death, mistakes, family, the practice of medicine, and the physician-patient relationship. It is a story about how Berk's profession prepared him for an unpredictable situation and how any doctor must address life’s uncertainties.

30 review for Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alina Puig

    This is an excellent book. It recounts the life and journey of the author culminating with his kidnapping. I couldn’t put it down and I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I loved the intertwining of the early days of a physician’s career, the challenges and choices one faces during training, the wisdom of the “old master” William Osler and the unexpected twists and turns that follow this real life kidnapping. I loved this book and I think you will too.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janet Jensen

    Anatomy of a Kidnapping; A Doctor's Story is a perfect title for this book, as its author, Steven L. Berk is a physician who responded to the events of March 6, 2005, with the instincts and skills he had honed in his many years of practicing medicine. On that day, an armed man entered his home, took him captive, and forced him into a white van. For four hours, Dr. Berk dealt with a meth-addicted felon with a history of violence who was looking for money to score more drugs. Although the defense Anatomy of a Kidnapping; A Doctor's Story is a perfect title for this book, as its author, Steven L. Berk is a physician who responded to the events of March 6, 2005, with the instincts and skills he had honed in his many years of practicing medicine. On that day, an armed man entered his home, took him captive, and forced him into a white van. For four hours, Dr. Berk dealt with a meth-addicted felon with a history of violence who was looking for money to score more drugs. Although the defense attorney and others questioned the choices he made during his ordeal at the hands of this psychopath (when Berk might have had opportunities to flee), Berk justifies and explains these choices logically; he evaluated the situation and did what he thought was best for his family and himself under the circumstances. I would never challenge that statement. Certainly the outcome suggests he made many wise choices in dealing with his captor, and that only he could evaluate the terrifying situation in which he found himself and determine the strategies he would use to deal with it. This is an engrossing book that details not only the kidnapping of Dr. Berk, but also contains many fascinating anecdotes from his years as a physician that helped to develop his particular method of assessing situations and acting accordingly. “In times of crisis,” he writes, “no matter the nature, a physician must do his best to promote calm, rational solutions to any problem. Even when emotions are running high and a situation is getting out of control, a physician must stay impassive and composed, and practice clear judgment.” Even at the trial, Dr. Berk maintained this clear judgment when he addressed the man who had held a shotgun to his head and changed his life forever, telling him, “Someday I hope you admit to your crimes and ask forgiveness.” The book also contains excerpts of testimony from the trial and newspaper articles relating to the case, which contain information from other points of view, adding more depth to the story. A term Berk often uses is “aequanimitas” which Dr. William Osler defines as: “imperturbability . . . Imperturability means coolness and presence of mind under all circumstances, calmness amid storm, and clearness of judgment in moments of great peril, immobility, impassiveness. It is the quality which is most appreciated by the laity though often misunderstood by them.” The most moving part of the book comes at the end, when in a dream, Dr. Berk is able to make amends for mistakes he has made in his life and learns of treatments and research that benefited others, many of which he had not known. Later, imagining the worst scenario, he writes a touching letter to his son. His address to students at a white coat ceremony, when they begin the study of medicine and take the Hippocratic Oath, is also included, and has a powerful message about the need to develop compassion, honesty and respect as they continue in their training. Berk explains how his own concept of aequanimitas was strengthened and refined by his kidnapping as he concludes: “Jack Lindsey Jordan taught me a lesson using his temper, his shotgun, his attempt at intimidation. I could not afford to fret over small things or imagined fears again. I would celebrate my life, my experiences, and my contributions at every opportunity. I would fear no evil, large or small. I had become much closer to a life of aequanimitas. Perhaps that is the most important lesson coming from my experience: to live each day to its fullest; to celebrate the joys of family, work, and good health; and to appreciate our every moment as precious.” I found the book compelling and well written. It’s a definite page-turner. Even though we know the outcome from the beginning, we want to see the actual events unfold, and Dr. Berk invites us into his unique personal perspective as he does so. I also had another reason for wanting to read Anatomy of a Kidnapping: my son is a physician in residency in El Paso, Texas, at a hospital and clinic associated with Texas Tech University, where Dr. Berk is Dean of Medicine and Provost of Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. In other words, though somewhat distanced through the chain of administrative command, Dr. Berk is ultimately my son’s boss. With Dr. Berk at the helm, he is in excellent hands.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan Franks

    Strangely, I didn't love this book, but for some reason, I still wanted to keep reading it. Perhaps it was the fact that the event happened in my corner of the world or that the author included side trips down medical memory lane that kept me reading. Overall, I felt like the author needed to add a drop of humility to his stories. Even if he didn't mean to sound arrogant about his achievements, he sounded a bit too smug about all that he had done.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t put it down! Dr. Berk worte about his abduction and other very interesting stories from practicing medicine. This book is a must read for anyone going into medicine and indiviuals who are practicing. I highly recommend this book to anyone! Also, I won this from the GoodReads giveaways and I am so glad that I did! Thanks!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura Jean

    A different type of true crime book, as the narrative is told from the perspective of a medical professional. He intersperses stories from his own life and career with the events of his own kidnapping.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Berk begins the fascinating account of his own kidnapping with the theory of why the agitated gun toting kidnapper did not kill him. He feels his medical history and time he spent with patients and in hospitals may have given him some tools to fall back on when he faced death at the hands of an unstable, drug addicted man. He mentions this in an almost casual way, not in arrogance, but more puzzlement. He is thankful for living through his ordeal, but doesn’t have any doubts that it could have g Berk begins the fascinating account of his own kidnapping with the theory of why the agitated gun toting kidnapper did not kill him. He feels his medical history and time he spent with patients and in hospitals may have given him some tools to fall back on when he faced death at the hands of an unstable, drug addicted man. He mentions this in an almost casual way, not in arrogance, but more puzzlement. He is thankful for living through his ordeal, but doesn’t have any doubts that it could have gone bad in an instant. The story is told in four intertwined parts. Berg gives the reader an insight to a young doctor’s life by sharing true events and encounters he had with great patients and odd patients. He doesn’t pull any punches or expound as to his greatness. He is frank and honest when telling of mistakes he made when treating some of the cases throughout his career. Everyone makes mistakes, but when doctors do, it can mean someone dies. We follow his life through the hospitals he’s worked in up to his current assignment in Texas. From Arizona to Boston then to Amarillo, TX Berk keeps learning and growing as a doctor. He always wanted to become a missionary doctor, but during his residency at Boston City Hospital he began to realize he really wanted to focus on academic medicine. He also became interested in infectious disease and clinical research. When a medical school classmate asked him to serve as the chairman of the advisory board of an Amarillo medical school, Berk agreed. He loved the challenge and the goals of Texas Tech, and felt the he could help. With his leadership, the campus grew and improved. Berk did the same. He moved his family to Amarillo and settled in to a rewarding career. The fateful morning in March 2005 was like any other. Like any other incident of this magnitude, he could look back and say he should have done something differently and it never would have happened. Life is like that, one little pebble can begin a landslide. Seeing it from the doctor’s perspective is haunting, knowing his fear for his family and his life on that Sunday morning puts the reader in the passenger seat of the car with him. he third part of the story we hear along the way is that of the kidnapper. Jack Lindsey Jordan was born to a wealthy TX family, but had a frightful temper as he grew older. He had spent 10 years in prison on a felony charge just before the kidnapping. We see the series of events that led up to kidnapping unfold as the book progresses. The last part to weave throughout the chapters is the actual court proceedings as documented from the trial. So you know in the beginning that Berk has been kidnapped, Jordan is caught and goes to trial. It is fascinating to read the account from the victim’s perspective. Berk acknowledges that in the end, life is just not fair sometimes. He questions why he was not harmed during his ordeal and other people are shot. There are no answers, only speculations and luck. This memoir reads like a fast paced fiction novel by a New York Times best-selling author. Berk’s ability to bring all four parts of this story – his history, the kidnapping, the kidnapper’s history as well as the court documents together in a page-turning novel makes this book a must-read. DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rock Angel

    ----- [after i quit] A solid 1.5 stars. I can't say i like his style. The intertwining threads of his kidnapping & medical nattering don't really mesh well, the latter constantly breaking up the momentum of the crime & wandering into aimless digressions. Some of those anecdotes are good (esp the last 2 in the "mistakes" chapter) but I wish he wud just stay focused. By p.88, i was sure the doc had a narcissistic personality disorder (what with his showmanship & his abundant self delusions of grandeu ----- [after i quit] A solid 1.5 stars. I can't say i like his style. The intertwining threads of his kidnapping & medical nattering don't really mesh well, the latter constantly breaking up the momentum of the crime & wandering into aimless digressions. Some of those anecdotes are good (esp the last 2 in the "mistakes" chapter) but I wish he wud just stay focused. By p.88, i was sure the doc had a narcissistic personality disorder (what with his showmanship & his abundant self delusions of grandeur) -- or maybe he's planning to run for office. At 80%, I quit. Berk cudn't be a worse writer. During all his dulling down of the "crime spree" i needed to stab myself several times to stay focused. And no, having been a one-time victim doesn't make him an expert on urban violence -- classic example of overreach by an intellectual. His mugger wud be a more qualified expert on that (?!) no? I'd rather his book editor deleted all his platitudes. ----- [1/2 way] I can't say i like his style. The intertwining threads of the kidnapping & his professional anecdotes didn't really mesh well, the latter breaking up the momentum of the main story & turned into long, aimless digressions most of the time. By p.88, i was sure this doc had a narcissistic personality disorder (w his abundant delusions of grandeur & showmanship) -- or maybe he's running for office. Berk was hagiographic not just with his own accomplishments but also with his wife & the overall saintliness of the couple. The story was yawn-worthy for another 30+ pages until ~p.120+, when he owned up to professional mistakes & offered some refreshing - albeit belated, humanity. .. I'm 1/2 way, the narcissism was regrettable -- as it really watered down the doc's likability ...which now makes picking up the book kinda a chore.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Anatomy of a Kidnapping is a unique reflection on what it means to be a physician. Dr. Berk weaves together the suspenseful story of his abduction with other fascinating stories from a lifetime of practicing medicine. From his time as a medical student on an Indian Reservation in Arizona, to his residency in inner city Boston, to his early career as a doctor and educator in East Tennessee, Berk shares stories that provide memorable insight into the humor, the tragedy, and the humanity that shapes Anatomy of a Kidnapping is a unique reflection on what it means to be a physician. Dr. Berk weaves together the suspenseful story of his abduction with other fascinating stories from a lifetime of practicing medicine. From his time as a medical student on an Indian Reservation in Arizona, to his residency in inner city Boston, to his early career as a doctor and educator in East Tennessee, Berk shares stories that provide memorable insight into the humor, the tragedy, and the humanity that shapes the life of a medical professional. At times light-hearted, at times deeply self reflective, each story from his past reveals how Berk became not only an outstanding doctor, but a person capable of coping with and surviving a life-threatening encounter with a violent criminal. While the story of his kidnapping is gripping, it is the other narratives about the lessons he learned during his long career that make the book so appealing to a broad audience. Berk explores how becoming a physician prepared him to respond to life’s most unexpected encounter with compassion, cool-headedness, and courage. As a medical student, I found this book both informative and inspiring. I recommend Anatomy of a Kidnapping to anyone interested in how a lifetime dedicated to helping sick people can change a person’s worldview and prepare someone to face and conquer extraordinary adversity.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Fritz

    This is an exceptional read. An incredible story of how an ordinary day goes completely wrong when a violent criminal finds totally by chance an open garage door and his next victim. The editing and storytelling are exceptional, moving from moments of the crime scene, court room testimony, and the life of Dr. Berk. The reader will discover that the old expression (or some similar variation) that: "impending death tends to focus one's mind." Well, it is true. From Dr. Berk we learn that lifestyle This is an exceptional read. An incredible story of how an ordinary day goes completely wrong when a violent criminal finds totally by chance an open garage door and his next victim. The editing and storytelling are exceptional, moving from moments of the crime scene, court room testimony, and the life of Dr. Berk. The reader will discover that the old expression (or some similar variation) that: "impending death tends to focus one's mind." Well, it is true. From Dr. Berk we learn that lifestyles, things we value and persons who have shaped our lives really do matter in sometimes unexpected ways. Dr. Berk introduced me to "aequanimitas". You must read the book to appreciate its meaning. But for now the calm, deliberate, careful, thoughtful discussion..."coolness" it brought to Dr. Berk saved his life and perhaps that of his family. We are reminded how fragile and precious life is. Dr. Berk also shows us how to love the life we have, how to serve those around us with maximum positive impact and joy. I say without hyperbole, this is the best book I have read in a very long time. It should be a must read for all aspiring pre-med students and, frankly, for all practicing physicians. Stephen E. Fritz Lubbock, TX

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    Three cheers for a talented local(!) author. You have inspired me Dr. Berk, thank you for sharing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Chapman

    Dr. Berk does an amazing job of describing his kidnapping and the tools he learned throughout his entire medical career that allowed him to survive. Throughout the book, Dr. Berk speaks to incoming and current physicians about the importance of remaining calm, as well as connecting with your patients. Anatomy of a Kidnapping is a must-read for anyone pursuing a career in medicine.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Eichman

    I would highly recommend this book to any future doctor. I fully appreciate the vulnerability Dr. Berk displayed throughout the book during his medical training and his kidnapping and subsequently turning these vulnerabilities into life lessons. The entire book was captivating, and I found it hard at times to put the book down.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arden Perabo

    I really liked this book! Dr. Berk alternates between stories from throughout his medical career and from the day of his kidnapping. It was fascinating to see the ways in which he connected his life as a doctor to being able to stay calm and survive his kidnapping. I found myself unable to put it down!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Excellent book. Very analytical and Dr. Berk comes across as a very educated yet down-to-earth man that really spent a lot of time and effort in creating this. A very interesting read that also reads easily and quickly. Would highly recommend to anyone involved in the healthcare field, particularly medical students.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dakota Tolleson

    Read this book in a day! Dr. Berk does a great job intertwining his life altering kidnapping experience with his career in medicine, making this the perfect book not only for future physicians but for anyone interested in medicine or true crime!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Weber

    As a first year medical student, I could not think of a more beneficial read for the start of my career. I feel like I have been able to learn about patient encounters through someone else’s eyes. Very valuable!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Fascinating story of a physician’s kidnapping and how his medical training helped him survive it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Addie Pederson

    I love this book! Anyone who is going into the medical field should read it!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Mcleod

    Great book for medical students. Offered lots of insight into provider/patient experience and how humanistic physicians grow and learn skills that help us adapt to life outside of a hospital.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sulaiman Karim

    Absolutely incredible read! Read it in like 9 hours

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stu Mcintire

    Dr. Steven Berk, M.D., has written a fascinating account of the 2005 kidnapping from his home in Amarillo, by embedding the narrative of that incident in episodes from his medical training and career, his family life, and trial transcripts that inform and expand effectively on the events of that day as it unfolds. My entire career has been on the periphery of physicians at work, and if you find them to be an endlessly interesting subpopulation, as I do, I recommend this book. Like many physician Dr. Steven Berk, M.D., has written a fascinating account of the 2005 kidnapping from his home in Amarillo, by embedding the narrative of that incident in episodes from his medical training and career, his family life, and trial transcripts that inform and expand effectively on the events of that day as it unfolds. My entire career has been on the periphery of physicians at work, and if you find them to be an endlessly interesting subpopulation, as I do, I recommend this book. Like many physicians, Dr. Berk is conscientious, very bright, and a lifetime-learner; when he must deal with a meth addict who has a shotgun aimed at him in his own home, he pulls from his training and experience to get through it alive without putting his family in harm's way. He provides many anecdotes from his past clinical experience, some that must have been painful to recount, that provide insight into the decisions he made on the day he was kidnapped. This is a very good read. Some fellow liberal readers who follow the party line might find where he lands regarding gun control problematic. My liberal bona-fides are beyond reproach, but I'm with him here; if I were forced to move back to the formerly halcyon neighborhood I grew up in, where my elderly mother continued to live until earlier this year, based on how it has evolved over the last couple of decades I would be “packing”. If you haven't been there, you don't know. Put yourself in his place with an open mind. Another clutch of readers who might find this book inspiring are people who have struggled with "type A" behavior, as I have since adolescence. In college, I found Benson's "relaxation response", a Western, de-mythologized distillation of Tao and Zen ideas, somewhat beneficial, and subsequently I explored "mindfulness" in many manifestations, some secular and some specifically Tao-ist or Zen, with mixed results; I’m not Mr. Relax (although Alan Watts, scoundrel that he was, changed my life). The concept of Aequanimitas discussed in this book, however, was new to me, and I found myself attracted to the specificity of it regarding reactions-in-the-moment to stressful situations. For several years I was a surgical assistant, and although I often witnessed OR situations bereft of aequanimitas – instruments being thrown across the room, Pulitzer-quality insults leveled at innocent RNs - I worked closely with a number of remarkable surgeons who demonstrated it consistently, dealing quickly but calmly with gunshot wounds, ruptured aneurysms, horrific traumatic injuries, and all manner of very urgent crises. I was very inspired by these performances, and that’s what they seemed to be, in a positive sense, but I generally chalked them up to innate character. Dr. Berk has opened a new way for me to conceptualize and possibly develop these attributes, and I’m looking forward to investigating these ideas. In sum, you haven’t read this before. It is a very personal account of an unusual occurrence by a sensitive, unusually open soul, who by chance had the background to address this intrusion into his life in a remarkably efficacious and inspiring way.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    This heroic account of one man’s survival of a kidnapping due to his ability to draw on the power of aquanimitas, the ability to stay calm and rational even under conditions of extreme duress, should serve as a motivational text for all those who are at risk of such an event happening either to themselves or to someone whom they know. Dr. Steven L. Berk’s Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor’s Story gains both from a sense of immediacy, as he relates every step of the kidnapping from start to finis This heroic account of one man’s survival of a kidnapping due to his ability to draw on the power of aquanimitas, the ability to stay calm and rational even under conditions of extreme duress, should serve as a motivational text for all those who are at risk of such an event happening either to themselves or to someone whom they know. Dr. Steven L. Berk’s Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor’s Story gains both from a sense of immediacy, as he relates every step of the kidnapping from start to finish, and from a sense of reflection, as he discusses the crime with hindsight on the incident. Chapters that describe the kidnapping and those that cover the background to the event are counterpoised against one another in such a way that the work as a whole stays riveting from start to finish. Especially interesting are the verbatim excerpts that are given from the trial State of Texas v. Jack Lindsey Jordan. Anatomy of a Kidnapping reveals Dr. Berk’s own personal history from his student days spent at Boston University, during which he spent four months working at the isolated hospital in Kearns, among other hospital-based experiences, through his days as a qualified practitioner, to where he obtains a measure of resolution to the crime perpetrated against him, in the form of the sentencing of his kidnapper to two life sentences, one for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping. As Dr. Berk states in the Prologue to this autobiographical account, he is not the usual victim of crime. Having spent his life devoted to the practice of medicine, he little expected that one day he would have to draw on his inmost spiritual resources to withstand an onslaught on his life, as well as a dire threat to the safety of his wife and family. Yet that is exactly what he had to do one day when he left his garage door open and so unwittingly let a dangerous criminal armed with a shotgun into the sanctuary of his own home. Although told from his own perspective, as medical doctor as well as husband and father, with a keen sense of responsibility towards both his community and his family, Anatomy of a Kidnapping also provides valuable insights into his patients’ and students’ lives, as well as into the criminal mind. The work provides inspiring lessons for all, as it shows how the author developed the core principles that he upheld during his ordeal at the hands of a man on the run, including hope, bravery, compassion and understanding. Anatomy of a Kidnapping should prove to be an exciting and compelling work for medical and legal professionals, as well as for those in law enforcement. The book is also likely to be of interest to anyone who is concerned with the impact of crime on daily life in the suburbs.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mahala Church

    A captivating read, Anatomy of a Kidnapping is principally the story of a man—his successes, failures, fears, joys, parenting, and marriage. Steven Berk endured the horrors of a violent crime and participated in the subsequent trial of his kidnapper. Without his background experiences, understanding the choices Berk makes over the course of the kidnapping would be impossible. Interspersed with stories from Berk’s life that move the book beyond the events of the kidnapping, Berk shares insights i A captivating read, Anatomy of a Kidnapping is principally the story of a man—his successes, failures, fears, joys, parenting, and marriage. Steven Berk endured the horrors of a violent crime and participated in the subsequent trial of his kidnapper. Without his background experiences, understanding the choices Berk makes over the course of the kidnapping would be impossible. Interspersed with stories from Berk’s life that move the book beyond the events of the kidnapping, Berk shares insights into the life of a young man becoming a doctor and the ordeals that people who aspire to help others through medicine face on a daily basis. No book about the medical field is complete without the courage and hopelessness that doctors and nurses face through their interactions with patients. They work at the crossroads of life every day. Readers enjoy looking over the shoulder of a doctor to live in that experience, and Berk gives them quite a ride. When Dr. Berk finds himself faced with a meth addict who threatens to kill him in his own home—his son in the house—Berk’s calm in the eye of the storm is phenomenal. He draws on his medical training and patient interactions to live through the trauma while protecting his family. The story is alternately the harrowing and heartwarming, unsettling and uplifting, terrifying and touching account of Berk’s life. The book may be a difficult read for those without a background or working knowledge of the medical field as it, at times, is rather complex. To give Berk credit, he takes the time to give seamless explanations of the terminology that clarify the points being made without being intrusive. He is methodical in elucidating his thought processes while caring for a patient and while fighting his way to sanity in the presence of the harried and dangerous man who kidnapped him. He brings the tension and fear during the kidnapping to the page, creating deep pathos. His logic of thought in the middle of the situation is extraordinary, logic that ultimately saved his life and protected others. I was particularly intrigued by his bravery and frankness in sharing his emotional experiences over the course of his career and during his kidnapping in particular.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    Steven Berk, M.D., I believe, is the type of physician that you would like to consult with when you or a loved one needs the honesty, experience, respect and calmness that all doctors should strive for besides medical knowledge. Looking back from the moment that he was threatened in his home by a man with a shotgun until he is finally back home with his family he realizes that it is his training as a physician that helped him make the many decisions and choices that he was forced to make. The re Steven Berk, M.D., I believe, is the type of physician that you would like to consult with when you or a loved one needs the honesty, experience, respect and calmness that all doctors should strive for besides medical knowledge. Looking back from the moment that he was threatened in his home by a man with a shotgun until he is finally back home with his family he realizes that it is his training as a physician that helped him make the many decisions and choices that he was forced to make. The retelling of the kidnapping itself is intertwined with tales of the early days of a physician’s career, the wisdom of Aequanimitas or calmness from the “old master” William Osler, of Berk's own past experiences, the history of the abductor, and the facts of legal testimony. The kidnapping was actually only 4 hours long but it seemed longer even in the telling and the aftermath of such an experience can last a lifetime. Thoughout our life we wonder why we made the choices we did. We can easily comment on someone else's choice and recommend what we would have done. Circumstance, experience and personality or character are only some of the many reasons we take a certain path instead of another. Fate? Destiny? Luck? This harrowing encounter with a criminal reminds us of how unpredictable and precious every minute of our life is. Dr. Berk ends his captivating narrative with what he has learned. " ...But in the end, our fates are in God's hands, and our lives are on loan. None of us are guaranteed safety, health, or old age. We are given a chance each day to see the beauty of life around us, to find a role for ourselves in making life better for someone, and to express our appreciation for what time we do have." He also recommends to lock your doors and shut your garage door!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This book was loaned to me by a friend whose daughter is entering medical school. Dr Steven Berk, the author, spoke to their class at their white coat ceremony. He tells the story of being kidnapped from his home at gunpoint and held for several hours by a drug-addicted felon. Dr Berk credits his survival to the principle of aequanimitas: the ability to maintain calmness and coolness during difficult circumstances. Aequanimitas is the focus of a famous essay by Sir William Osler, known as one of This book was loaned to me by a friend whose daughter is entering medical school. Dr Steven Berk, the author, spoke to their class at their white coat ceremony. He tells the story of being kidnapped from his home at gunpoint and held for several hours by a drug-addicted felon. Dr Berk credits his survival to the principle of aequanimitas: the ability to maintain calmness and coolness during difficult circumstances. Aequanimitas is the focus of a famous essay by Sir William Osler, known as one of the fathers of modern medicine and one of Berk's personal heroes. This is a nice book. The author makes some good points, illustrated by stories from his medical career. I especially enjoyed the discussion at the end of the book, which covers the process of investigation and prosecution. Dr Berk describes his ambivalence toward the attorneys and their methods. He ponders the forces that led his attacker to a life of violence and crime, and also expresses hope for his rehabilitation. Also, after a lifetime of being anti-gun, Dr Berk makes the decision to begin keeping a handgun in his home for personal protection. Personally, I remain in favor of gun control, but I appreciate a thoughtful discussion of the issue by someone who was directly confronted by a violent criminal. I do support a person's right to keep a firearm if they truly feel it is necessary for personal protection. I could have done with a little less boasting from the author about his professional accomplishments, contributions to his community, and the saintliness of his wife. Also, Dr Berk is not exactly a prose stylist; he writes like someone who has spent his life in the world of science. But, he gets his point across.

  26. 4 out of 5

    McGinty

    Some reviewers of Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story regard it as good "required reading" for incoming medical school classes. I will tolerate their suggestion, as each chapter successfully teaches discrete and important lessons for young doctors. However, when compared against more experienced writers, Dr. Berk comes across as a physician first, writer second (possibly third or fourth). He has a bad habit of telling instead of showing, a phenomenon inhibiting the reader from truly exper Some reviewers of Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story regard it as good "required reading" for incoming medical school classes. I will tolerate their suggestion, as each chapter successfully teaches discrete and important lessons for young doctors. However, when compared against more experienced writers, Dr. Berk comes across as a physician first, writer second (possibly third or fourth). He has a bad habit of telling instead of showing, a phenomenon inhibiting the reader from truly experiencing his tale. I agree with one reviewer on goodreads.com who points out the self-absorbed, borderline narcissistic language in the opening chapters of the book. Dr. Berk has accomplished many great things as a physician, researcher, teacher, dean, and father, but his tone certainly feels boastful. That said, I believe his tone is a fault in writing, not in personality. Either way, I was distracted by this tone many places throughout the book, not just in the opening. While his anecdotes are embedded with powerful lessons, his writing often inhibits the reader from truly experiencing them. As a result, I have rated Dr. Berk's book with two stars, "It was OK."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    I powered through this book in a single evening. This is a book that starts off at a run and never really stops. Dr Berk is a doctor who lives in my hometown and was kidnapped from his family home without his family being any wiser about the situation. His story is intertwined with stories of Dr. Berk's past in medicine and how it changed how he approached the situation with his captor. This book is first and foremost an exploration of humanity, the fight to stay alive, and the service part of th I powered through this book in a single evening. This is a book that starts off at a run and never really stops. Dr Berk is a doctor who lives in my hometown and was kidnapped from his family home without his family being any wiser about the situation. His story is intertwined with stories of Dr. Berk's past in medicine and how it changed how he approached the situation with his captor. This book is first and foremost an exploration of humanity, the fight to stay alive, and the service part of those who do. Dr. Berk explains the highs of helping a patient who had no hope, and contrasts it with the lows of medical mistakes and the dire results that come of that. All the while, the service of being a physician is causing him to want to see the humanity in the violent man with a shotgun in the seat next to him. In the end, its also a story about growth and hope. I highly recommend it and hope to meet Dr Berk sometime to tell him how his stories inspired me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sameer

    This is an amazing book. I could not put it down, reading it the night I was on call. I stayed up most of the night and I had no regrets the next day. Dr. Berk’s story and insight into medicine and what it means to have “AEQUANIMITAS” had me spellbound and wishing I could embody that persona. As a resident I found his book to be inspiring and Dr. Berk to be a role model for what a true doctor should be. His lessons on keeping his cool under pressure will serve me well in my medical career. I adm This is an amazing book. I could not put it down, reading it the night I was on call. I stayed up most of the night and I had no regrets the next day. Dr. Berk’s story and insight into medicine and what it means to have “AEQUANIMITAS” had me spellbound and wishing I could embody that persona. As a resident I found his book to be inspiring and Dr. Berk to be a role model for what a true doctor should be. His lessons on keeping his cool under pressure will serve me well in my medical career. I admire how he was able to be collected, yet see the humanity of everyone. This book will inspire both physicians and non-physicians alike to see the best in people. In addition, the book is a very easy and enjoyable read coupled with compassion and suspense. I HIGHLY recommend it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom Tenner,jr.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Anatomy of a Kidnapping” – the recounting of the harrowing hours during which a physician had to use his intellect and understanding of the human psyche to preserve his own life and protect his family from a gun-wielding parolee on the run. The book parallels the event of a kidnapping with a wonderful introspection of a life-time of medical experiences and lessons learned. It reminds all of the unique life a physician is privileged to lead - one that so intimately e I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Anatomy of a Kidnapping” – the recounting of the harrowing hours during which a physician had to use his intellect and understanding of the human psyche to preserve his own life and protect his family from a gun-wielding parolee on the run. The book parallels the event of a kidnapping with a wonderful introspection of a life-time of medical experiences and lessons learned. It reminds all of the unique life a physician is privileged to lead - one that so intimately entwines with that of the patient. I would recommend this book to anyone, but most specifically to medical students and residents, and for that matter, any physician wishing to reaffirm his or her calling to a career in medicine.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Jennings

    This is an interesting and true account of the random abduction of a physician. The event is discussed in such a way that the reader can understand both the motivation of fear and the thoughtful response under pressure that allowed the physican to interact with his captor and eventually gain his freedom. The book is accentuated by the clever interweaving of recalls of the physician's own past experiences, the history of the abductor, and the facts of legal testimony that provides the reader with This is an interesting and true account of the random abduction of a physician. The event is discussed in such a way that the reader can understand both the motivation of fear and the thoughtful response under pressure that allowed the physican to interact with his captor and eventually gain his freedom. The book is accentuated by the clever interweaving of recalls of the physician's own past experiences, the history of the abductor, and the facts of legal testimony that provides the reader with an understanding of both the victim and the captor. It is an easy "cover to cover" read that will leave you thinking about how you might respond under similiar circumstances. Read and enjoy.

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