17 reviews

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
by Sheri Fink

Published: 2013-09-10
Hardcover : 576 pages
13 members reading this now
20 clubs reading this now
9 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 15 of 17 members

One of the New York Times’s Best Ten Books of the Year

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Winner of the 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Ridenhour Book Prize, the 2014 American ...

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One of the New York Times’s Best Ten Books of the Year

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Winner of the 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Ridenhour Book Prize, the 2014 American Medical Writers Association Medical Book Award (Public/Healthcare Consumers), a 2014 Science in Society Journalism Award, and the SIBA 2014 Book Award for Nonfiction

An ALA Notable Book, finalist for the NYPL 2014 Helen Bernstein Award, shortlisted for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Award and the ALA Andrew Carnegie Medal

An NPR “Great Reads” Book, a Chicago Tribune Best Book, a Seattle Times Best Book, a Time Magazine Best Book, Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Nonfiction Book, a Christian Science Monitor Best Book, and a Kansas City Star Best Book

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina – and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.

In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.

After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.

Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.

In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

How could this have had a more favorable outcome?
What can be learned from this horrible incident?
by jmlyons3 (see profile) 12/14/15

Have recent natural disasters taught us anything about how to handle these extreme events?
If we were not in their shoes, do we have the right to judge them?
What was the real reason for the failure of the system to react appropriately?
by thewanderingjew (see profile) 03/11/14

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Life and death at a New Orleans hospital after hurricane Katrina.
by jmlyons3 (see profile) 12/14/15
If you like non-fiction about natural disasters and the chaos that can ensue, then this book is for you. It became apparent to doctors in this hospital that no one was coming to rescue them and they took it upon themselves to make controversial decisions.
Find a member of the investigating staff to speak about the book. This helped us to understand the events in the book even more.
by gailgarcia (see profile) 08/22/14
The book is large and a lot of reading to undertake for a book club especially since the story has so many characters and facts to get through. The story could have been condensed and still have the facts and story presented adequately.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Jeff C. (see profile) 08/22/20

  "5 Days at Memorial"by JoAnn L. (see profile) 12/14/15

It was a difficult subject; life and death in a hospital after a disaster and chaotic decisions made that seemed adjacent to a war zone. It was frustrating to realize the lack of organization there. ... (read more)

  "Five Days at Memorial"by Carol C. (see profile) 09/15/15

Unbelievably well researched bringing important information to light about this hospital and its "population" during and after Katrina.

  "Interesting, but biased"by Maureen C. (see profile) 04/14/15

Sheri Fink's book was filled with an enormous amount of interesting facts but the bottom line appeared to slant toward the guilt of Dr. Anna Poe and the 2 nurses who were brave enough to stay and deal... (read more)

  "Five Days At Memorial"by Jeff W. (see profile) 10/24/14

A truly amazing story but unfortunately, the author took way too long to tell it. Too many details, which was made more challenging by such a depressing story. Read like the longest newspaper article I... (read more)

by K K. (see profile) 10/15/14

by Cheryl B. (see profile) 08/22/14

  "Five Days at Memorial"by Gail G. (see profile) 08/22/14

Since all of us in Louisiana lived through the tragedy in one way or another of Hurricane Katrina this was a very difficult book to read. It showed people at their worst not some of the good things that... (read more)

  "Five Days At Memorial"by Angie F. (see profile) 08/01/14

Very well written.

by diane v. (see profile) 08/01/14

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