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Picks and Pans Review: Surviving Against All Odds

updated 09/14/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/14/2009 01:00AM

STRENGTH IN WHAT REMAINS
by Tracy Kidder |

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REVIEWED BY RICHARD EISENBERG

NON-FICTION
Pulitzer Prize-winner Kidder's uplifting, true story of Deogratias Niyizonkiza just may restore your faith in humanity. In 1993 "Deo," a Burundian peasant medical student, fled his impoverished country's ethnic civil war and neighboring Rwanda's genocide. Arriving in New York City with $200, emaciated and unable to speak English, Deo toils delivering groceries and sleeping in Central Park or in rat-infested tenements. Through astonishing perseverance and the kindness of strangers (like the New York woman who found a family Deo could live with), he ultimately triumphs, graduating from Columbia and Dartmouth Medical School and then opening a much-needed clinic in Burundi. You'll wonder why the Burundi atrocities, which killed over 200,000, didn't get more coverage hereā€”and whether you could have survived as Deo did. "What happened happened," he tells Kidder at one point. Amahoro ("peace"), Deo.

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