Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Epic Measures
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper Wave; Reprint edition (March 28, 2017)

Moneyball meets medicine in this remarkable chronicle of one of the greatest scientific quests of our time—the groundbreaking program to answer the most essential question for humanity: how do we live and die?—and the visionary mastermind behind it.

Medical doctor and economist Christopher Murray began the Global Burden of Disease studies to gain a truer understanding of how we live and how we die. While it is one of the largest scientific projects ever attempted—as breathtaking as the first moon landing or the Human Genome Project—the questions it answers are meaningful for every one of us: What are the world’s health problems? Who do they hurt? How much? Where? Why?

Murray argues that the ideal existence isn’t simply the longest but the one lived well and with the least illness. Until we can accurately measure how people live and die, we cannot understand what makes us sick or do much to improve it. Challenging the accepted wisdom of the WHO and the UN, the charismatic and controversial health maverick has made enemies—and some influential friends, including Bill Gates who gave Murray a $100 million grant.

In Epic Measures, journalist Jeremy N. Smith offers an intimate look at Murray and his groundbreaking work. From ranking countries’ healthcare systems (the U.S. is 37th) to unearthing the shocking reality that world governments are funding developing countries at only 30% of the potential maximum efficiency when it comes to health, Epic

Measures introduces a visionary leader whose unwavering determination to improve global health standards has already changed the way the world addresses issues of health and wellness, sets policy, and distributes funding.


As an individual who is obsessed with medicine this book keep me mesmerized due to the brilliant and distinct new way, Chris Murray looked at the world's health problems by formulating the Global Burden of Disease Study. Why had I not heard of this ingenious scientific study before I kept asking myself as I indulged in the book’s abundant supply of facts, figures, and Murray’s distinct calculations that are used in the Study? One of the most interesting aspects of the study to me is the number of disability-adjusted life years or DALYs which entails taking the quality years a person lost due to a disability (YLDs) from the years they actually lived ending up with how many years a person lived a healthy life. Therefore, this is just a simplified version of how the book explains it, but being disabled myself this concept blew my mind, even though it is a simple calculation I felt as if Murray understood not being able to live life to its fullest. Whereas, Murray has endless energy doing everything at an extreme level from work to fun.

Low back pain, was so prevalent and so painful it now caused more years of healthy life lost than murder, malnutrition, lung cancer, or tuberculosis. “As the world is aging, the burden shifts,” Murray said. Aid programs had to catch up.
When reading the book I proceed to highlight and take notes concerning the important information not wanting to miss out on putting it in this review, but when reaching the end I had a colorful book and pages of notes. Therefore, what I am trying to say is this book contains so much critical information on so many different levels that it is essential for each person to read it themselves. Whereas learning which diseases were the most prevalent in different countries around the world and how they are changing as time passes is a lot more interesting than you might assume at first.

In Rwanda, and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS was now the second greatest contributor to the burden of disease, trailing only malaria. Yet, the combined burden from noncommunicable diseases - heart disease, stroke, diabetes, mental illness, and so on - was greater still. Murrays data-rich analysis could make the case to invest in building complete health systems that could combat all these problems in a unified way.

There is one question that was never fully answered and it has been on my mind since finishing the book. By who and how much is this crucial information being used? This study upset many important organizations and groups around the world, but I hope minds are changed and the Global Burden of Disease study is put into use so lives of people around the world can be of higher quality.  

World Health Organization estimates had been way off…There’s a storyline that runs over decades in the global health field, people get used to the storyline, and it’s complicated to the public and decision makers. People in the midst of running a specific disease program see any change in their story a threat.


Jeremy N. Smith has written for Discover, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chicago Tribune, among many other publications. His first book, Growing a Garden City, was one of Booklist's top ten books on the environment for 2011. Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, he is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Montana. He lives in Missoula, Montana, with his wife and young daughter.

Find out more about Jeremy at his website.
Tour Stops
Tuesday, March 28th: Lit and Life
Thursday, March 30th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, April 4th: Sapphire Ng
Wednesday, April 5th: Readaholic Zone
Thursday, April 6th: Man of La Book
Monday, April 10th: Doing Dewey
Tuesday, April 11th: Based on a True Story
Wednesday, April 12th: Kissin Blue Karen
Friday, April 14th: Read Till Dawn
Friday, April 14th: Jathan & Heather

1 comment:

  1. I can see myself doing the same thing you did, and ending up with a book chock full of post it notes after I finish reading. I love this kind of book!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.