4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell is a fictional book written by William H. Coles that follows Hiram McDowell, a womanizing surgeon who thinks very highly of himself. He views women only in terms of their attractiveness and often only notes their physical assets, his stepdaughters do not escape his criticism. Caught in a loveless third marriage and forgetful of his near grown children, Dr. McDowell often puts himself first, never considering anyone else’s needs.
He manipulates others to get what he wants, like when dealing with Michael O’Leary, a fellow member of the International College of Surgeons. McDowell’s ambition pushes him to pressure O’Leary into accepting a bribe to secure his and several others’ votes in favor of Hiram, which would make him the president of the Board.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars because of its adherence to the “tell, don’t show” rule in writing when introducing Hiram’s characterization. While not subtle, examples showcasing his character flaws show exactly the kind of character the author decided to create in his protagonist. This book delivers in great detail a character study focused on a stereotypically egotistical, misogynistic man who goes through life using people as he pleases without giving proper tribute when necessary.
The dialogue flows easily and is direct, not a word uttered without purpose. This also highlights the politics of healthcare and how a lot of the goings on depends on whom you know and whom you please. A writing quirk I noticed in the book is that the author tends to stack his dialogue so that sometimes constant “he/she said” doesn’t bog it down. There is also at least one instance where this style of dialogue showcased how quickly a crowd can become hostile, displaying nicely that intellectuals are not above mob mentality.
I think this book would be great for those who are interested in the workings of a small facet of the American healthcare landscape because it showcases that humans run it; therefore, displaying the gray side to what many believe is a shining example of good work done by good people. Like all institutions, money is involved in a big way, specifically who is making how much and what it is being used for. However, there is also the added layer of ego at play, as shown in the protagonist as he has several patents for health patents, is the president of a prestigious committee, as well as founded a successful charity.
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