Prescription for Survival by Dr. Bernard Lown

"As the Berlin wall divided East and West, so inequality now creates a fracturing divide that augurs global chaos, terrorism, and war."

-Bernard Lown, MD
Prescription for Survival



Praise: Rx for Survival

The former head of the US Strategic Command, General Lee Butler, renouncing his life-long commitment to nuclear arms, issued a plea for sanity: "By what authority do succeeding generations of leaders in the nuclear-weapons states usurp the power to dictate the odds of continued life on our planet? Most urgently, why does such breathtaking audacity persist at a moment when we should stand trembling in the face of our folly and united in our commitment to abolish its most deadly manifestations?" There is no better response than the dramatic story recounted here by the remarkable physician and peace activist Bernard Lown, whose courageous efforts have helped forge a path that might save the species from suicide, if enough people can muster the kind of will and determination and "hard-headed optimism" that he has so impressively demonstrated, and eloquently recorded here."
Noam Chomsky, University Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Pioneering linguist, linguist, author and political activist.

"Dr. Lown's Prescription for Survival may very well be the most important prescription he has written in his long and distinguished career as a physician. This is a book I would prescribe for every friend of civilization and opponent of nuclear war (in other words, every sane human being)."
Jerome Rubin, founder of LEXIS and NEXIS, inducted in the Information Industry Hall of Fame.

"This is a gripping tale of how one brilliant and committed man launched a worldwide movement that saved us from the brink of nuclear annihilation. The doctors' movement to eliminate nuclear weapons was one of the most powerful but least well-known political developments of the last quarter-century. Lown's rendering is not only a fascinating insiders' tale of his experience moving the highest levels of government, but a powerful analysis for breaking the stalemate of escalating militarism and post-9/11 conflict. Whoever you are - a concerned citizen, student of history, intellectual or just someone who loves a great story, you can't afford to neglect this doctor's prescription for survival. One of the most important books of the twenty-first century."
Professor Juliet Schor, author of New York Times best seller The Overworked American and the just published Sustainable Planet: Solutions for the 21st Century. Chair, Department Sociology, Boston College

"In Prescription for Survival, Dr. Bernard Lown shares tremendous insight as a chief architect of the international physicians' movement to prevent nuclear war. His compelling prose conveys the intrigue of a spy novel, but is founded on the real world history of a citizens' movement that awakened the world to the looming threat of nuclear annihilation and moved world leaders to take preventive action. Lown reports the words of President Gorbachev after their 1985 meeting: "Nuclearism is the greatest challenge confronting humankind, we either eradicate it or witness its spread." Unfortunately, both Gorbachev's and Lown's words and prescriptions remain timely and ripe today. The immoral divide between the world's "haves" and "have nots" continues to expand while the technology to build nuclear weapons becomes ever more accessible. The history of IPPNW, as shaped and captured by Dr. Lown, must be read by world leaders and by the people as a prescription for survival has been presented; it is up to all of us to heed our doctor's advice and invigorate a global movement for survival as prescribed."
Bill Monning and Dr. Dana Kent

"What a story, what a book - a unique fabric of history woven with heart threads! It says so much about priority - what is needed when we are threatened existentially, what is possible when the right man or woman at the right place does the right thing with vision and perseverance, igniting the spark of enthusiasm in other human beings of kindred spirit.

Many physicians who had the privilege to meet Bernard Lown and to work with him in IPPNW became witnesses of a breath taking experience, of a series of miracles, of the transformation of enemy images into friendship, became witnesses of historic changes. For me this unique experience is the foundation of my conviction: We will make it, we will learn, we can also stop climate change and keep our beautiful planet inhabitable, soon enough, together."
Dr. Martin Vosseler, Swiss environmental activist.
Recipient of European Environmental Solar Award in 2007, pioneer in crossing Atlantic ocean in a solar powered catamaran; founder of Swiss PSR.
(December 28, 2007)

"One doesn't expect an eminent cardiologist to speak out on nuclear war, to organize a global network of physicians to confront the issue, and to make its enormous risks clear to the world; and ultimately to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. This wonderful book by that very cardiologist, Dr. Bernard Lown, recounts this compelling saga. It is a powerful book by any standard, made even more so by the grace, fluidity, and richness of his prose, surely the equal of our nation's finest writers (further enriched by apt quotations from the great poets and playwrights of the ages). Every caring, concerned citizen of the globe will want this book at the top of his or her reading list. (Full disclosure: I was a patient of Dr. Lown's for some 20 years; I give him credit for the fact that I'm here today to praise not only his idealism but his skill as a physician.)"
John C. Bogle, Founder of the Vanguard Group

"First a disclaimer. More than thirty years ago, Dr. Lown was one of my teachers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital where I was a young, inexperienced fellow in cardiology. And what a privilege it was to watch this master clinician, consummate healer and deeply moral mentor at work.

A few years later, with Russian cardiologist Eugene Chazov, Dr. Lown founded the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which, within a few short years was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. "Prescription for Survival" is Dr. Lown's gripping memoir of that time, an amazing chronicle of how a few committed doctors set out to confront the specter of nuclear holocaust, organized tens of thousands of supporters and helped save civilization from annihilation.

This is a "must read" book. It's message of hope, of the centrality of mass action, of the necessity to speak truth to power, of persistence in the face of daunting challenges, is particularly pertinent at this juncture in the history of our planet. At a time when once again events seem to be spinning out of control, when not only rampant wars, but catastrophic climate change, ecologic degradation and unbridled militarism all menace our survival as a species, the lessons of this book need to be promulgated, adopted and utilized if we are to leave a habitable planet to our children and grandchildren.

Buy "Prescription for Survival," tell your friends to buy it, and take its lessons to heart. As Dr. Lown writes at the close of this absorbing, hard-to-put-down book: "This memoir is ultimately a call to action. Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible. This book makes visible a wide terrain wherein action for another world fit for human beings becomes both challenging and possible."
Barbara Roberts, MD, FACC, Director of the Women's Cardiac Center at Miriam Hospital in Providence, RI

"On the eve of this historic presidential election, Dr. Bernard Lown has given us a momentous, lucid, and gripping book.

By all counts, Lown is an extraordinary man: one of the great physicians of the 20th century, a Nobel Laureate, an inventor whose work has saved thousands and thousands of lives. All that is true. What's less well known is that he is a STORYTELLER; a master of narrative. He's a writer in the tradition of Chekhov and the other great physician-writers of the last century. The dude can spin a yarn.

It's rare for so keen and incisive an intellect to convey itself this warmly and skillfully, and with this much humanity. (You don't see Noam Chomsky writing books like this). Lown is keenly aware that one of the first tasks of both a good doctor and a good writer is to compel his subject's attention.

And the book is so timely, so important. As the planet approaches a tipping point the likes of which it hasn't seen, we are facing into the realities of climate change, oil shocks, daunting economic and political instability, resource shortages, a soaring global population, an increase in militarism and state-sponsored violence, and on and on. It's difficult to hold in our minds the magnitude of what we're facing, and its even more difficult to imagine that we can actually do anything about it.

That's why Lown's book is so important. It shows that we--any of us, all of us--can dare to take action, can dare to make a difference. The book tells the story of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nucelar War, from its origin as an idea in 1980, to its recognition by the Nobel committee in 1985, at the height of nuclear tensions between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. Within that striking story, Lown makes larger points about the ways in which hope can emerge in the darkest hours, and how much is possible when citizens take action within and across national borders.

This is a powerful book. It radiates a kind of moral gravitas that's palpable. Lown writes out of a deep sense of urgency, but he does so beautifully, with a feel for language and image and rhythm, and a sense of the importance of these things. After a lifetime of clinical practice as a cardiologist, attending to the rhythms of the human heart, Lown has learned his way around it. He writes from that heart and to it--about matters of great consequence, with great wisdom. "
Arthur J. Roberts, MD, Founder of the Living Heart Foundation


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