By Steven L. Berk, MD
Texas Tech University Press, $27.95, 288 pages

Texas doctor Steven L. Berk sips coffee while editing his son’s school assignment on a bright Sunday morning when a red-eyed stranger steps into his home office. Over the barrel of a leveled shotgun the man declares, “I will kill you if you don’t do what I say.” Together the men go out to collect the doctor’s ransom. ||Dr. Berk’s takes us through what remains of his Sabbath. He punctuates this chronicle of passing a day in hell with vignettes of his life’s journey in medicine. Collectively these stories amount to a tour of how he built his mental and spiritual armory and how he filled it with the weapons: compassion, calmness, judgment and self-reliance, which enable him to affect his salvation.

The climax of that day’s journey comes when the doctor insists that his captor return to his home. It is what Berk has to do to save his life. The doctor knows that his wife and son will be there and if his judgment is wrong his gamble will result in a horror much larger than his individual slaughter.

Berk wagers on himself and it is the right thing to do. A book worth the bother.

Reviewed by Larry A. LaBeck