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ISBN 978-0-615-60066-6

Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Politics and Prose, Washington, DC
202.364.1919 or 800.722.0790

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|The Goff-Weinstein Family Story is a memoir about the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents, Jews in Kentucky in the early 20th century.

Sam Weinstein was an immigrant from Roseieny, Kovna, Russia in the late 1880s. After a brief stay in New York, he accepted an assignment from a New York jobber to work as a peddler in eastern Tennessee and Kentucky. He headed for those mountains, soon settled in Middlesboro, KY, and then opened a general merchandise store with his brother in the Magic City,
so-called because the mining town of Middlesboro had emerged, as if by magic, from a meteorite crater in the KY hills.

In 1901, Sam married Susie Goff, whose parents were Russian/Polish/Lithuanian immigrants living in Knoxville and running their own jobbing shop. Susie, Sam, and their six children stayed in Middlesboro until 1932. Sam was a prominent businessman, the de facto rabbi for the Middlesboro Jewish community, and a person interested and involved in local politics. Susie was a college graduate (rare for that era) whose attention was focused on the achievements of her children. Her life included fears and mysteries and enduring sorrow. Middlesboro was something of a wild-west town, full of saloons, clan murders, frequent shootouts, and Ku Klux Klan gatherings. The Weinstein family members saw it all.

The book is based on written and oral stories recorded by several of the family members, newspaper items from the local Kentucky papers during the years that the Weinsteins lived there, census records and other online archival resources, and books and articles about the region, the family members, and others in the town.


|A Life         Interrupted tells the story of Marjorie Cornelia Day, a brilliant American girl who, after graduating from Wellesley College, went off to Oxford University in 1925 to study philosophy and

psychology but, instead, lapsed into a coma, remained "asleep" for seventeen years, and then suddenly returned to full consciousness and went on to live almost 100 years as a charismatic college professor with a rich personal life. In the decades after her life started up again, Day spent her winters teaching social science courses to the daughters of the wealthy and powerful in Washington, DC, and her summers teaching tennis and poetry and cooking bacon and eggs on the rocks at a seaside resort for Massachusetts mill and sweatshop workers. Her life was unique, her illness was long an enigma, and every word of this story is true.



"Ruth Levy Guyer has done the impossible. A knowledgeable and experienced medical scientist has produced a carefully researched case history that reads like a page-turner novel. The story of Marjorie Day is one any layperson will find fascinating but, at the same time, will challenge clinicians, neuroscientists, and bioethicists to deal with an inexplicably rosy outcome involving a patient who was pronounced a hopeless case. Day is the kind of patient who purveyors of contemporary wisdom would decide should be mercifully allowed to die. Yet, after an unprecedented period of seventeen years, she recovers to lead a wonderfully rich and productive life. Her story confronts those who advocate withdrawal of life support, but, just as importantly, those who would inflict prolonged and burdensome suffering on patients who would, with almost certain probability, not recover. The unresolved question is how each of us would want to be treated if we found ourself in Day’s predicament."

—Robert M. Veatch, PhD, Professor of Medical Ethics and Philosophy, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, author of Patient, Heal Thyself

"Ruth Levy Guyer offers a meticulous and illuminating reconstruction of her protagonist "Daysey's" journey from college until the end of her long, fulfilled life, despite an absence that found her, her family, and those who cared for her coming face-to-face with the mysteries of diagnosis and prognosis. Guyer deepens those mysteries when she describes through Daysey's experiences what psychiatric care was like for those deemed "incurable." She writes with a passion for the person in all her trials and all her strengths, equally matched."

—Jonathan B. Imber, Jean Glasscock Professor of Sociology, Wellesley College, author of Trusting Doctors: The Decline of Moral Authority in American Medicine.

"Ruth Levy Guyer's A Life         Interrupted: The Long Night of Marjorie Day might also have been called "A Life Reconstructed." The book is a biography of Marjorie Day, a fascinating character who loses 17 years to a mysterious illness. Day re-enlists in her own life near age fifty, continuing her personal adventures until only two years short of a full century. The extraordinary details of her story are revealed through documents that the author discovered during painstaking detective work spanning thirty five years. The book blends one part Rip Van Winkle with two parts One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, finally yielding a portrait of an intrepid, indomitable and unforgettable woman. Her tale of personal triumph is an inspiration."

—Paul Lombardo, JD, PhD, historian, bioethicist, author of Three Generations: No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v Bell

"The Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska spoke in her Nobel acceptance speech in 1996 of valuing the phrase "I don't know" highly. "If Isaac Newton had never said to himself 'I don't know,' the apples in his little orchard might have dropped to the ground like hailstones, and at best he would have stooped to pick them up and gobble them down with gusto." Guyer's beautiful detective work in this tale of A Life         Interrupted is as fascinating as the strange life and missing years of her protagonist. Her investigation leads from location to location, from the memories of countless participants, from medical records, from the memoir of Majorie Cornelia Day, and from what she experiences as she makes this journey. Her "I don't know" carries her to archives and towns here and in England. The immediacy of her writing bring us fully and vividly along on the journey of discovery. What is so rare is Guyer's profound knowledge of science and medicine so that we have, in addition, a medical detective story told by an expert. And we end up with a remarkable life story of a unique figure who miraculously survives the primitive medical treatment she received during her seventeen-year hiatus from a normal life. This book calls to mind my own experience as a teenager working in a state mental hospital in the late 40's where patients were routinely lobotomized and given electric and insulin shock treatments, which greatly diminished memory. They were kept in primitive conditions. After years of large-scale institutionalization of mental patients, President Kennedy passed the Community Mental Health Act, which closed a number of these institutions with the aim of setting up small community mental health facilities, but many patients were unable to cope with life outside and ended up on the streets. It is nothing short of miraculous that Majorie Day survived the long uncertainty and serious medical effects of encephalitis lethargica, and that she recovered her full mental faculties and was able to lead an enormously productive life. Only through extreme persistence does Guyer uncover, layer by layer, the descent into mental and physical darkness that began on the southwestern coast of England during a study vacation with friends in 1926. And with the same persistence, brings us to the restoration of an exceptional life."

—Myra Sklarew, MA, poet, professor of literature, Author of The Witness Trees: Lithuania, The Holocaust and the Construction of Memory, Harmless, Over the Rooftops of Time.

"A Life         Interrupted is a compelling exploration of the fragility, and the strength, of an individual's unique perceptions and intelligence, the moment-to-moment creation of tens of billions of cells in a thriving, wounded, and recovering, brain."

—Lynn Caporale, PhD, scientist, writer, author of
Darwin in the Genome

"Ruth Levy Guyer's A Life         Interrupted a beautifully written, moving story of a woman who entered the netherworld of institutionalization and emerged intact to tell the tale of what it was like behind those gray walls. I'm so glad Ruth Levy Guyer pursued this touching story, which otherwise may have been lost to the footnotes of medicine. Even more compelling than the protagonist's descent into illness is the way the author describes her re-emergence into the world—finding her way back by gravitating toward beauty, art, and nature. It's a reminder of the elemental joys that can sustain and guide us as we try to figure out why we're here and what we should do next. It's also a fascinating look at a rare disease, encephalitis lethargica, which makes me wonder if this is where the legend of zombies started."

—Amy Fries, author of Daydreams at Work

Daysey, the protagonist, wrote a memoir that never was accepted for publication. Invoking The Snake Pit, a 1946 novel about a large state mental hospital, one rejection letter characterized her book as a story that already had been told. Ruth Levy Guyer upends the stigma that all mental illness is the same in this complex narrative of Daysey's life. Part detective story, part historical dig, Guyer's account augments stories from Daysey's memoir with facts culled from local newspapers, Oxfordian archives, alumnae journals, personal correspondence, and 1920s medical articles. "What we in medical research don't know about the brain exceeds what we do know," said Daysey's doctor in response to a thank you note from his patient. Long before neuroimaging techniques revealed the regenerative powers of the brain, Daysey's life is a shining example of the fact that the mind can heal. As a Latin teacher, Daysey would have appreciated Guyer's portrayal of her as a "miracle"—not the common form of "miracle" as an act of divine intervention, but rather a rare aspect of "miracle" as in "put a difference between." Daysey's life was rich with difference, and the hope her story engenders is Guyer's gift to us all."

—Tina Darragh, poet, author of Striking Resemblance

"I've just finished reading "Interrupted." It is a beautifully told true story of a rare illness. I was riveted by it. My own "Raising the Dead" seems pallid in comparison. I was not trying to relay a factual experience; I was trying to create a vivid story. There is a big difference, isn't there?"

— Richard Selzer, MD, surgeon, author, retired Yale medical school professor, author of Confessions of a Knife, Taking the World in for Repairs, Imagine a Woman, and other books.


|Baby at Risk explores the growing phenomenon
of at-risk babies, infants born too early or with major medical and developmental problems that can threaten and impair their health for life.

The book is based on extensive interviews with parents and medical and nursing staff members. It explores ethical principles that can guide deliberations, examines the dilemmas that at-risk babies raise, considers the responses of those who care for and about these babies, and proposes strategies for more effective and balanced decision-making in the uncertain world of neonatal intensive care.



"Baby at Risk ... is a brilliant treatment of the conflicted emotions that come into play when a fragile infant comes into the world. I am in great admiration of the way Guyer has presented this controversial and ambiguous topic. Surely, it is the best work of its kind."

—Richard Selzer, M.D., surgeon, writer, professor,
retired Yale University

"Ruth Levy Guyer has written a beautiful, moving, passionate account of the agonies and the joys of families that have included infants with serious, often fatal, medical problems. Just after every couple contemplating an addition is assured of how unlikely such a tragedy will be, they should read this book and begin calmly thinking about the experiences of the sometimes heroic and often desperate families who have been cursed and blessed with the births Guyer describes so vividly and compassionately. The book has to find its way to the doctors and nurses who advise these families and care for these infants. Guyer shows us how much can be done to prepare for the unlikely event of such a birth. Obstetricians and their patients simply have to confront these issues. Some professional caregivers won’t like what they read. Some will be offended. The pregnant women and their partners whose caregivers resist Guyer’s advice need to turn elsewhere to the compassionate, enlightened caregivers we learn about."

—Robert M. Veatch, PhD, Professor of Medical Ethics and former Director, The Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

"Baby at Risk is a narrative of the perils and promises of neonatal intensive care. ... The thesis is that with a more nuanced appreciation of the miracles and the complications, parents and physicians would make better collaborative decisions for premature infants and other children born with serious health problems ... Baby at Risk will prove to be an emotional roller coaster for parents, prospective parents, and ... clinicians. It causes one to reflect on how to regain control over technology in the short run and how to promote patients’ well-being in the long run."

—Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, PhD, Journal of the American
Medical Association

"Medical miracles make the news. The everyday failures of medicine do not. We owe a debt to Ruth Levy Guyer, a courageous bioethicist, for sharing the true stories of medicine’s smallest patients and their families."

—Barbara Katz Rothman, PhD, Professor of Sociology, City University of New York

"How these children affect both their families and society is the subject of Guyer’s Baby at Risk. ...There is much to be learned from the care provided to these children, the outcomes of their births, and popular media’s treatment of them. Baby at Risk should stimulate a discussion about difficult topics regarding a vulnerable portion of our population. ... Achieving a balance between risks and benefits, overtreatment and undertreatment, and reasonable hopes versus “miracles” will continue to be important as more and more children are born “at risk."

—Scott A. Lorch, MD, Science

"… Guyer asks: Now that we have this innovative field of medicine, should we be using it with more consideration? ... [She] gets up close and personal ... showing pictures ... interviewing parents ... and [has] a feel for the heart-felt dilemmas experienced by parents, nurses, and physicians."

—Anita Catlin, DNSc, FNP, FAAN, Advances in Neonatal Care

"Never before have I seen such an eloquent portrayal of the complex emotional terrain felt by families caring for such children.. . . . Guyer has written a wonderful book."

—Jay Baruch, MD, Brown University

"Baby At Risk is right on target: balanced and true-to-life, touching equally on the limits, victories, and questions of a moneymaking branch of medicine. And it captures as few works have––and few in the field will still even admit––that neonatology remains rife with tunnel vision and experimentation. Every NICU parent and professional should read it."

—Jeff Stimpson, author of Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie

"Ruth Levy Guyer’s illuminating and compelling account of neonatal medicine interweaves the stories of infants, parents, and clinicians and shows how neonatal medicine wields a double-edged sword with the power to heal, but where prognosis may be uncertain and survival may come at a dear cost in many ways."

—Arthur R. Derse, MD, JD, Center for the Study of Bioethics, Medical College of Wisconsin

"Guyer has written a bleak, brave and enigmatic appreciation of children with lifelong health problems and of the parents who care for these chronically ill children.... Bioethicists who would comment on cases from this world have an obligation to spend some time there. This book––with all its rage, wonder and contradiction––is an excellent place to start."

—John D. Lantos, MD, The American Journal of Bioethics