Summer Sale! Save 20% today and get access to all our member benefits.

Reviews of Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

Five Days at Memorial

Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

by Sheri Fink

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink X
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2013, 432 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 592 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink's landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and suspense-filled portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.

Winner of the BookBrowse 2013 Best Non-Fiction Book Award

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink's landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and suspense-filled portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.

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

After Katrina struck, after 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 as Americans 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 will change your understanding of how we value human life. 

note to the reader

THIS BOOK RECOUNTS what happened at Memorial Medical Center during and after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and follows events through the aftermath of the crisis, when medical professionals were arrested and accused of having hastened the deaths of their patients. Many people held a piece of this story, and I conducted more than five hundred interviews with hundreds of them: doctors, nurses, staff members, hospital executives, patients, family members, government officials, ethicists, attorneys, researchers, and others. I was not at the hospital to witness the events. I began researching them in February 2007 and wrote an account of them in 2009, copublished on the investigative news site ProPublica and in the New York Times Magazine: "The Deadly Choices at Memorial." Because memories often fade and change, source materials dating from the time of the disaster and its immediate aftermath were particularly valuable, including photographs, videotapes, e-mails, ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    National Book Critics Circle Awards
    2013

  • award image

    BookBrowse Awards
    2013

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Fink is a remarkable author. She comes from a school of thought that says, “Report the facts and let the readers make up their own minds. Don’t lead, don’t tease, don’t cajole. Just let the story unfold.” No matter how vivid Fink’s narrative becomes, amazingly culled from “more than 500 interviews,” various books, reports, photographs, Internet postings, articles, videotapes, notes and so much more, her words remain calmly stated. She is truly an objective observer...continued

Full Review (876 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky).

Media Reviews

Shelf Awareness, Debra Ginsberg
To say that Five Days at Memorial is an engrossing read is a vast understatement. Throughout this horrifying, fascinating book, Fink maintains the highest journalistic standard. Her reporting is detailed, nuanced and far-reaching, yet it is never biased - a striking accomplishment in a story with this kind of moral complexity. ...This is a book not to be missed. It is, quite simply, required reading.

Booklist
Starred Review. Both a breathtaking read and an essential book for understanding how people behave in times of crisis.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Fink tells the Memorial story with cogency and atmosphere.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. [S]he chronicles the chaotic evacuation of the hospital and the agonizing ethical, physical, and emotional quandaries facing Memorial nurses and doctors...

Reader Reviews

Sheryl

Five Days of Terror
This has to be one of the best investigative books I've read in a long time. It really opened my eyes to certain aspects of the medical profession. Ms. Fink was very non-biased on her opinions regarding the tragedy. But I believe she has a valid ...   Read More
Diane P

Disaster Recovery
This is such a sad story - For 5 days Memorial Medical Center became an island in hurricane stricken New Orleans. No running water, no electricity - a city totally unprepared for the tragedy that stuck. My personal take from this book is that ...   Read More
Becky H

Five Days at Memorial
Five Days at Memorial is two books in one. The first relates, through the eyes of those present, the happenings at Memorial Hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Louisiana. The nurses, doctors, visitors and patients tell ...   Read More
ChristyS

unsettling
I loved the way that Sheri Fink presented so many viewpoints simultaneously. This book doesn't set out to define the events that took place during those five horrible days of confinement at the hospital, as much as presenting as many sides to the ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

New Orleans' Levees

Though Hurricane Katrina did strike a mighty blow, it was only part of the catastrophe that befell New Orleans. As Sheri Fink writes in Five Days at Memorial, "Katrina rapidly lost strength after moving onto land. The rain lessened and the winds began to ease by late morning. The water level outside Memorial stabilized at about three feet."

Lake PontchartrainDuring the squalls of the hurricane on Monday August 29, 2005, water raced down Clara Street (Memorial's location) and "a red car and a red van were submerged to the tops of their wheel wells," but the hospital seemed free from disaster. Then a National Guard soldier informed Memorial's plant operations director that the levees had been breached. Fifteen feet of water from Lake Pontchartrain was ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Five Days at Memorial, try these:

  • Dopesick jacket

    Dopesick

    by Beth Macy

    Published 2019

    About this book

    More by this author

    The only book to fully chart the devastating opioid crisis in America: An unforgettable portrait of the families and first responders on the front lines, from a New York Times bestselling author and journalist who has lived through it.

  • The Floating World jacket

    The Floating World

    by C. Morgan Babst

    Published 2018

    About this book

    A dazzling debut about family, home, and grief.

We have 12 read-alikes for Five Days at Memorial, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    by Briony Cameron
    Our titular heroine's story begins in Yáquimo, Santo Domingo. Jacquotte Delahaye is a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Another Word for Love
    Another Word for Love
    by Carvell Wallace
    "I write about beautiful things because I live in a country that has tried to kill me and every...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flower Sisters
    by Michelle Collins Anderson
    Michelle Collins Anderson's novel The Flower Sisters, based in part on a real tragedy that occurred ...
  • Book Jacket: Craft
    Craft
    by Ananda Lima
    You may have heard about books that are letters to God, but what about books that are letters to the...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.
Win This Book
Win The Bluestockings

The Bluestockings by Susannah Gibson

An illuminating group portrait of the eighteenth-century women who dared to imagine an active life for themselves in both mind and spirit.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.