EventsBrian Alexander — The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town

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Brian Alexander — The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM


Join the Boston Public Library for this online talk with Brian Alexander, author of The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town, who will be in conversation with Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. This program is part of the BPL's Repairing America Series.

An intimate, heart wrenching portrait of one small hospital that reveals the magnitude of America’s health care crises.

By following the struggle for survival of one small-town hospital, and the patients who walk, or are carried, through its doors, The Hospital takes readers into the world of the American medical industry in a way no book has done before. Americans are dying sooner, and living in poorer health. Alexander argues that no plan will solve America’s health crisis until the deeper causes of that crisis are addressed.

Bryan, Ohio's hospital, is losing money, making it vulnerable to big health systems seeking domination and Phil Ennen, CEO, has been fighting to preserve its independence. Meanwhile, Bryan, a town of 8,500 people in Ohio’s northwest corner, is still trying to recover from the Great Recession. As local leaders struggle to address the town’s problems, and the hospital fights for its life amid a rapidly consolidating medical and hospital industry, a 39-year-old diabetic literally fights for his limbs, and a 55-year-old contractor lies dying in the emergency room. With these and other stories, Alexander strips away the wonkiness of policy to reveal Americans’ struggle for health against a powerful system that’s stacked against them, but yet so fragile it blows apart when the pandemic hits. Culminating with COVID-19, this book offers a blueprint for how we created the crisis we're in.

To purchase signed copies of The Hospital from Trident Booksellers & Cafe, one of the BPL's community bookstore partners, please visit their website via this linkUse the code BPLSHIP for free media mail delivery!

The Hospital shows us the deep connections between health care, the economy, and people's lives. Brian Alexander masterfully weaves national history and events into the story of a small local hospital and its community. This book is devastating, gripping, and beautiful." — Beatrix Hoffman, Professor of History, Northern Illinois University and author of Health Care for Some

Photo by Shelley Metcalf

Brian Alexander, the author of Glass House and winner of the Ohioana Book Awards, is a contributing writer to The Atlantic. He’s written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, among others. He’s spoken at The Obama Foundation Summit, and in Washington to members of the Senate and House of Representatives. He lives in San Diego.

Dreamland chronicles the roots of America’s epidemic of opiate addiction, nation’s deadliest drug scourge in its history. The story is also an attempt to show how Americans’ desire to avoid pain, together with destruction of community, exaltation of the private, made the country especially vulnerable to addiction to opiates, the most isolating class of drugs we know as a species.

Sam Quinones (last name pronounced Kin-YOH-Ness) is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three books of narrative nonfiction. His latest book is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury, 2015), for which he traveled across the United States.

This program will also be broadcast to and stored on our YouTube page at this link: 

The Repairing America Initiative is the Boston Public Library's pledge to focus its 2021 programming and services on bridging the gaps that divide America. By prioritizing economic recovery, civic engagement, COVID-19 recovery, racial equity, workforce development, and youth engagement, the BPL is working to help Americans rise above the challenges they face.

Programming like this is enabled through the generosity of a variety of public and private funding. To learn more and support our programming, visit the Boston Public Library Fund website.

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