Review by esp1975 -- Defining Moments of a Free Man from...

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esp1975
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Review by esp1975 -- Defining Moments of a Free Man from...

Post by esp1975 » 16 Jul 2019, 21:46

[Following is a volunteer review of "Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream" by Dr Frank L Douglas.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream is a memoir by Dr. Frank L. Douglas. It highlights his childhood in British Guiana (now Guyana), his time at University in the United States in the 1960s, his rise in Big Pharma Research and Development, and finally his return to academia at the end of his career. After reading the forward for the book, I immediately went to see if there was an audio book version, because this is exactly the kind of book I love to listen to while traveling. Sadly, no audio book version exists.

The book focuses almost entirely on Dr. Douglas’s education and career. We do meet his mother and a few other important family members at the start, when we are dealing with his childhood, but we get almost no mention of his family after he starts University in the United States. The exception to this is talking about his mother’s illness and later death.

The absence of his family was so complete that I remember wondering during the sections on his education, just when he was going to marry his fiance, to whom he had become engaged right before leaving British Guiana. So I was incredibly surprised by him mentioning his wife and two young kids at home at one point during the section on his graduate school experience.

I understand that one of Dr. Douglas’s main purposes in writing this book was to share his educational and professional experiences with his wife and children, but it still seemed very odd +how little he mentioned them. And given that another purpose of the book was to call out the racism he experienced and witnessed during his time in academia and the professional world, I expected to see examples of racism his family faced, as well.

However, even without the family element, Dr. Douglas’s experiences were very interesting. I enjoyed learning about his career path, and his perseverance in the face of discrimination throughout his education and career. The story of how an intelligent young boy got a scholarship to study engineering in the United States, with the promise that he would return home to serve his country, and went on to become a medical doctor and oversee the development of numerous important drugs in the United States and Europe, was fascinating and definitely worth my time.

Unfortunately, I must give Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream a rating of only two stars out of four. This is why I wish there had been an audio book version. Content wise, the book was definitely a solid three stars. (I could not rate the content four stars because Dr. Douglas went too deep into the science of the drugs he had a hand in developing too often, creating entire paragraphs that meant nothing to the lay reader.) However, there was an egregious lack of copy editing in the book, especially the electronic version. It seems that a file containing the print manuscript was simply converted to the electronic format without anyone checking that it had converted correctly. Headers and page numbers were inserted into the text every time they appeared, and because page breaks in the print and electronic versions are different, that meant that sometimes those were inserted at the top or bottom of a page and sometimes in the middle of a page. In addition, there were numerous grammatical and punctuation errors that likely exist in both versions of the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs about people overcoming many obstacles to succeed in life, or to those who are interested in a research based career path, whether in industry or academia. I do, however, suggest you pick up the print version to avoid the many formatting issues with the electronic version, or, better yet, wait for an audio book version to be available.

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Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream
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Post by AKShanmar12 » 18 Jul 2019, 15:14

Thanks for the review. I was trying to decide if I wanted to jump in and read this book of the month or not. It is a bit of a toss-up, as his personal story sounds amazing, but the tech side might have me doing a lot of skimming. As I read on my phone, I often have to deal with a lot of odd page breaks, etc. Sometimes it is really distracting.
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esp1975
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Post by esp1975 » 18 Jul 2019, 15:22

AKShanmar12 wrote:
18 Jul 2019, 15:14
Thanks for the review. I was trying to decide if I wanted to jump in and read this book of the month or not. It is a bit of a toss-up, as his personal story sounds amazing, but the tech side might have me doing a lot of skimming. As I read on my phone, I often have to deal with a lot of odd page breaks, etc. Sometimes it is really distracting.
There were parts of paragraphs that I looked at and realized that reading the individual words would not increase my understanding of the book. Lists of different drugs, or even lists of people's names, don't actually add anything to the narrative. So I just skipped to the start of the next paragraph.
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Post by briellejee » 19 Jul 2019, 00:55

I agree with the scientific part. For me, as someone in the research department as well, I think it was fun to read, but I agree that it somehow loses the laymen's terms needed to be understood by all readers of different professions. I'm glad it wasn't just my phone who had that problem of headers and page numbers flying about. It was so hard to read. Thanks for this honest review!
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Post by rumik » 19 Jul 2019, 12:53

I naturally "scan" words a lot, I might end up skipping entire lines during the unnecessary drug explanations if I read this. Thanks for the honest review!

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Post by AlexandraA16 » 21 Jul 2019, 22:30

Maybe Dr. Douglas wanted to keep his family private, or maybe he just forgot to update the reader on them. It does seem odd, he must be very passionate about what he does. I agree that reading all of that technical stuff is just too much sometimes. Thanks for your work!

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esp1975
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Post by esp1975 » 22 Jul 2019, 13:04

AlexandraA16 wrote:
21 Jul 2019, 22:30
Maybe Dr. Douglas wanted to keep his family private, or maybe he just forgot to update the reader on them. It does seem odd, he must be very passionate about what he does. I agree that reading all of that technical stuff is just too much sometimes. Thanks for your work!
I thought he might have left them out on the theory that originally, they were meant to be the main audience for this book, and they know the family side. They don't know the professional side. But as a memoir for a general audience, I do wish more information about the family would have been included in the book.
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Post by allbooked+ » 22 Jul 2019, 18:14

I have been thinking about reading this book - as it is the BOTM - but I am not sure it would appeal to me per your review. I like to read about people and their lives but it sounds like Dr. Douglas left out whole sections of his life that most likely helped to make him who he was! Thanks for your review!

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Post by AlexandraA16 » 22 Jul 2019, 18:22

esp1975 wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 13:04
AlexandraA16 wrote:
21 Jul 2019, 22:30
Maybe Dr. Douglas wanted to keep his family private, or maybe he just forgot to update the reader on them. It does seem odd, he must be very passionate about what he does. I agree that reading all of that technical stuff is just too much sometimes. Thanks for your work!
I thought he might have left them out on the theory that originally, they were meant to be the main audience for this book, and they know the family side. They don't know the professional side. But as a memoir for a general audience, I do wish more information about the family would have been included in the book.
Hmm, perhaps you are right. In either case, it sounds like he could have broken up the medical stuff with fun family memories.

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Post by danielleamy » 24 Jul 2019, 17:59

I read the sample for this and agree with the formatting issues. They really detracted from the content of the book and stopped me from enjoying the book completely. Thanks for your review, glad I wasn't the only one struggling with those issues! Hopefully, the author or editor can fix those problems you highlighted.
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Post by kdstrack » 24 Jul 2019, 22:28

I read the book and agree with your observations. I'm not sure an audio version would have made that much of a difference. Wonderful insights!

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esp1975
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Post by esp1975 » 25 Jul 2019, 09:19

kdstrack wrote:
24 Jul 2019, 22:28
I read the book and agree with your observations. I'm not sure an audio version would have made that much of a difference. Wonderful insights!
An audio book would have meant I didn't notice the formatting errors or the run-on sentences. It wouldn't have changed any of my thoughts about the content, but I could have happily given an audio version 3 stars instead of 2.
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Post by unamilagra » 25 Jul 2019, 18:18

I like the general concept of this book, but it sounds like it contains too many flaws for me to enjoy it. Thank you for an honest review!

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Post by Dic45ta » 26 Jul 2019, 03:00

Awesome storyline but so not my type. Thanks for the review it helped me decide whether I want to read.
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Post by cdhundley » 26 Jul 2019, 10:09

The errors are unfortunate. In the sample, I read the author's passion for education was really compelling and made me want to read the rest of the book.
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