Cover image for Dissident doctor : catching babies and challenging the medical status quo / Michael C. Klein, MD.
Dissident doctor : catching babies and challenging the medical status quo / Michael C. Klein, MD.
Publication Information:
Madeira Park, British Columbia : Douglas & McIntyre, 2018.

Physical Description:
xv, 288 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
610.92 KLE Book Adult General Collection

On Order



How often do you hear a doctor saying doctors need to be more accountable, Medicare needs more support and family medicine deserves more respect? Dissident Doctor bristles with refreshingly frank criticisms from inside the health sector, and its author is not just any doctor but a distinguished scientific researcher, veteran medical administrator, Professor Emeritus, recipient of the Order of Canada and lifelong gadfly.

In Dissident Doctor, Michael C. Klein intersperses fascinating tales of individual cases with formative elements of his personal life. As the son of American left-wing activists, he grew up singing folk songs about justice and racial equality; as a young doctor his refusal to serve as a military physician during the Vietnam War prompted his immigration to Canada. His early experience working with midwives in Ethiopia--delivering babies using techniques for natural pain relief and without routine episiotomy--were formative, leading him to question many standard but unjustified procedures in Western maternity care. He made many unconventional decisions as a result of his focus on humane medicine, transitioning from a specialization in pediatrics and newborn care to become a family physician, and embracing midwifery before it was approved in Canada. Klein's determination in the face of great opposition, the strength of his convictions, and his humility and sense of humour drive this powerful story of a life and career dedicated to his patients and his principles.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Klein, a retired family physician, recounts growing up as a "red diaper baby" in the 1940s U.S., his subsequent medical career, and other aspects of his life in this disappointing memoir. He cites his parents' pro-Soviet activism before WWII and their struggles during the McCarthy era, when his father could not find work and his mother took over as breadwinner, as a major influence on his life and particularly on his work as a doctor. He goes on to revisit formative student trips to Mexico and Ethiopia, his dilemma in 1966 upon submitting dual applications to the United States Public Health Service and to his local draft board as a conscientious objector, and his professional path to becoming a professor of family practice at the University of British Colombia. Halfway through the narrative, the focus shifts to the series of strokes that the author's wife suffered in 1987 and her subsequent recovery. Unfortunately, Klein does not expand upon the themes he raises, and the narrative resembles a chronologically arranged collection of vignettes more than a cohesive story. A dry tone and bland writing-"In 1963, having survived the preclinical years and beginning to taste the fun of clinical medicine, I decided to treat myself"-leaves the literary potential of an undoubtedly rich and rewarding life untapped. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.