BOOK COVER ADVANCED PRAISE
"Captivating, inspiring, and refreshingly honest, Lifelines takes you on an unforgettable journey to understand the power of public health to transform society. Dr. Wen's hopeful and wise account is a reminder of why she has quickly become one of America's most important physician leaders."
—Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States
“Our best doctors aren’t created in medical school, they are born through remarkable life experiences with a desire and capacity to end the injustices others accept. Dr. Leana Wen is a public health superhero, destined to make profound changes in our world. This is her origin story.”
—Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
“In this powerful book, Dr. Wen tells the compelling story of her journey to a career in medicine while giving a crash course in the nuts and bolts of policy and politics. Along the way, her writing will turn any reader into a believer in the power of public health and an advocate for getting off the benches and into the trenches.”
—Senator Barbara Mikulski
"With its brave candor and clarity, this book is for people who might not know all the ways in which public health has saved their lives, but they will once they've read Lifelines. It is also for all the people who do know the importance of investing in public health, of prevention and treating everyone with dignity, and who want to learn how Leana Wen has accomplished this throughout her career as a doctor, public servant, and writer."
—Chelsea Clinton, author, advocate, and Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation
“Lifelines is a truly special book. Dr. Wen takes us with her not just on her remarkable life journey but also into an exploration of the life-and-death implications of a system that too consistently leaves people behind. Here Dr. Wen shows that she is not only one of our great medical minds—she is also one of our great storytellers and changemakers.”
—Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore and Five Days, CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation
“During the pandemic, I came to count on Dr. Leana Wen’s calm presence, tempered advice, and explanation of the science. Now that I’ve read her captivating and important Lifelines, I cannot begin to express how inspired I am by her personal journey. Many people are ambitious and smart, but few among them seek to improve life for others. Leana Wen’s empathy and concern for the world around her shine through with every word.”
—Lisa See, author of The Island of Sea Women, Shanghai Girls, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
“Wen’s book about her journey into the world of public health is a moving eye-opener. We follow her as she delves into the lives of the citizens that she hopes to protect; we endure her frustrations and rejoice in her victories. This book is ultimately about transformation— and Wen’s own journey is a metaphor for the long awaited transformation of public health in America. This is a must-read from one of our finest medical writers.”
—Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene
“Lifelines reveals an astonishing life and work, deeply felt and brilliantly written. Her walk through suffering has blossomed into a spirit that might just heal the medical world. ”
—Dr. Samuel Shem, professor of medical humanities, NYU Medical School and author of The House of God and Man’s 4th Best Hospital
“Dr. Leana Wen has a super power -- caring deeply about others and making things better. She tells us how we can do it, too. This book is a powerful, inspiring message from the front lines about how to fight for the world as it should be.”
—Bill Novelli, former President of AARP and author of Good Business: The Talk, Fight, Win Way to Change the World
“Before public health became the thing everyone was talking about, there was Dr. Leana Wen, in the center of it all and focused squarely on the people on the margins. Dr. Wen, as we see in Lifelines, is able to see what other people don’t— because of her biography, her intellect, her compassion, and her ability to reflect all of that to all of us with a razor’s precision. If you want the story of how public health can help transform us, you will find it here, so warmly and yet so crisply told.”
—Andy Slavitt, former Senior Advisor to the White House COVID-19 response and author of Preventable
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare how inequities in health care are inextricably connected to the economic and social injustices experienced by communities of color. Dr. Wen’s book illustrates how public health is not an extravagance or luxury—it is an absolutely essential component of a free and fair society. Lifelines is one of those seminal works that is essential for understanding our nation’s history, our present moment, and the future trajectory of our country.”
—Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President of Howard University
“Lifelines is a compelling autobiography of Dr. Leana Wen’s quest to improve the public’s health. Along the way, she gives salient insights into the world of medicine and public health. It is a powerful expose on the health systems strengths and weaknesses and makes a cogent case for citizen engagement to improve the public’s health.”
—Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
“Dr. Leana Wen serves us a wonderful feast in her book, with the importance of public health as the main course, flavored with her story of growing up an immigrant learning English while learning to survive and then thrive as a physician and public health leader. Dessert is the inspiration of her persistence, and refusal to lose her North Star: the dedication of a physician to her patients.”
—Dr. Barbara L. McAneny, former President of the American Medical Association
“With candor and insight, Dr Leana Wen reveals her unlikely journey to become one of
our most effective public health leaders and advocates. Beautifully written, Lifelines weaves Wen’s life lessons like “Chi ku” with her deep knowledge of today’s public health realities and crises in a way that both challenges the status quo and inspires action.”
–Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President Emerita and former CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
“A must read from one of the nation’s most influential health leaders. Leana Wen’s personal story is truly inspiring. Importantly, and she makes a compelling case for the transformative power of public health in advancing the well-being of society. Her account comes as a critically important time as our nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to face new and ongoing health threats.”
—Dr. Victor Dzau, President, National Academy of Medicine
“Lifelines tells the story of a young physician drawn into public health because of its ability to ‘level the playing field of inequality’. As a former city health commissioner, I know how challenging and how necessary the work of local public health is. I commend Dr. Wen for her courageous leadership and recommend Lifelines for anyone who wants to understand how public health is essential to saving lives and making our society healthier, safer, and more just and equitable.”
—Dr. Margaret Hamburg, former Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration
“True to her character, Dr. Wen shares her inspiring path into medicine and public health with compelling, yet humble words. In this spectacular memoir, she highlights her devotion to protecting the public along with her remarkable resilience. Read Lifelines to get to know an outstanding leader, one whom I'm proud to know."
—John Allen, President of the Brookings Institution
“Through her remarkable personal and professional journey, Dr. Wen breathes life into how public health touches every part of our lives. At a time when so many of her public health colleagues are under assault, Leana shows us how leading with compassion can truly make a better and healthier world.”
—Michael Botticelli, former Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
“Dr. Leana Wen inspires a generation living through the COVID-19 pandemic to become engaged in public health and to work together to reduce disparities. Lifelines is an important book that describes how public health is essential to improving the health and well-being of our society.”
—Dr. Elena Rios, President & CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association
"Lifelines tells a deeply inspirational story of. Leana Wen's journey from humble beginnings to her heroic tenure as Baltimore's Health Commissioner, and now the nation's moral conscience in the COVID-19 pandemic. For far too long, public health has been Ignored, invisible. Dr. Wen celebrates the power of public health to transform lives. Dr. Wen is a remarkable storyteller and an inspiring public health leader."
—Lawrence O. Gostin, founding O'Neill Chair in Global Health Law, Georgetown
“During the pandemic when I was looking for wisdom and advice to share with school superintendents, principals, parents and teachers across the country, I listened closely to Dr. Wen. As I tried to make good health and safety choices for me and my family, I listened closely to Dr. Wen. To say she earned my complete trust and total respect is an understatement. During a dark, scary and uncertain time, I can’t begin to tell you how much her clarity of thought and good judgement meant to me.”
—Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education
"A story of grit and perseverance, Wen's Lifelines has channeled her life experiences into a call to action to make the world a better place for all. I was emotionally moved with her beautifully written memoir and personally motivated to lead and inspire others. This is a must read for aspiring and current health leaders and anyone interested in leading change."
—Dr. Kara Odom Walker, former Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services
"Dr. Leana Wen tells a story of courage at the intersection of medicine, policy, and politics in a page-turner that is hard to put down. By showing that progress is possible despite great odds, Lifelines is a book about what leadership can look like on the individual, organizational, and community levels. The lessons will serve anyone interested in our public’s health."
-Dr. Nirav R. Shah, Senior Scholar, Stanford University, Former New York State Commissioner of Health
“Dr. Leana Wen is a triumph in her personal story of overcoming her struggles to become a public health leader and advocate. In a society where Asian American women can sometimes be invisible and with the added layer as serving as a public health professional, Dr. Wen is highlighting how important it is to uplift marginalized and underrepresented communities in bringing more attention to society’s biggest challenges. A truly inspirational must read.”
—Madalene Mielke, President/CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies
“How does an impoverished child go to college at age 13, become a Rhodes scholar and physician, and now a leading public health force in the United States? Dr. Leana Wen’s memoir is just the beginning of the profound impact she is destined to have for medicine’s future.”
—Dr. Eric Topol, author of Deep Medicine, Professor and EVP, Scripps Research
“Leana Wen’s life has been, as she says, a testament to public health. But as Lifelines makes clear, her life is also a testament to public service, hard work, compassion, caring and brilliance. If you want to see how a leader contributes to bending the moral arc of health care toward justice and human flourishing, then read this book.”
—Arthur Caplan, Director, Division of Medical Ethics, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
“Talk less; do more. This should be Dr. Leana Wen’s motto. While most people dwell on problems or spend years thinking about solutions, Dr. Wen makes progress. She is a modern day action figure taking the revolutionary approach of making things a little less bad every day. Like other action figures, Dr. Wen has an equally improbable life story taking her from public housing to public service. This is a how-to guide for inspirational leaders.”
—Dr. Bob Kocher, former member of the White House National Economic Council and Adjunct Professor, Stanford Medicine
“Lifelines is a brilliantly written, refreshingly honest and inspiring book—one with a special mission: to shine a spotlight on the power of public health. Everyone who works in healthcare should own a copy of Lifelines.”
—Fawn Lopez, Publisher and Vice President, Modern Healthcare
“Dr. Wen’s story should inspire a new generation of health professionals to make a difference through a life in public health. As she describes, it takes determination and grit, but the impacts are well worth the struggles.”
—Dr. Nicole Lurie, former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
“In this extraordinary book by one of our nation’s leading public health figures, Dr. Leana Wen helps make the invisible work of public health visible. If there is one book you should read about the power of public health to make a difference in people’s lives, it is this book. Written by a courageous leader who overcame early challenges and obstacles, Dr. Wen demonstrates that public health is connected to all spheres of our lives, and all of them in turn, influence the public’s health. Her lessons learned based on experience are critical to heed to ensure the future health of our children and of our nation.”
—Dr. Anand Parekh, Chief Medical Advisor of the Bipartisan Policy Center and author, Prevention First
“A spellbinding story of an extraordinarily talented individual who developed a powerful vocation for improving the health of the public. Dr. Wen’s journey re-affirms, once again, the value of young immigrants to this country, while illustrating, by way of personal examples, the ability to solve often overlooked health care needs of our communities by devoting the time, talent, analysis and compassion they deserve.”
—Dr. Alfred Sommer, Dean Emeritus, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
“In Lifelines, a riveting, inspiring book that is both political and deeply personal, Dr. Leana Wen recounts how an immigrant girl grows to become a public health leader, taking on opioids, guns and domestic violence. As the nation faces COVID and a myriad of other public health crises, Dr. Leana Wen’s voice is one that must be heard.”
—Dr. David Michaels, former Director, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
“Lifelines describes the blend of individual caring, community activism, and intelligent government necessary to protect the health of the public. Dr. Leana Wen is the public health leader who recognized and described what public health MUST consist of, before COVID proved it for the world.”
—Dr. George Lundberg, Editor-at-Large of Medscape, former Editor-in-Chief of JAMA
“A compelling narrative of personal courage and professional commitment. Dr. Wen leaves little doubt that increased support for our public health system…chronically overlooked and underfunded…will be critical to improving the health of all Americans”.
—Dr. Robert Graham, former CEO of the American Academy of Family Physicians
"Leana Wen's engaging life story mixed with the realities of public health shows exactly how important the role of non-healthcare institutions - everything from schools and grocery stores to fire departments - is to keeping us healthy. In the end, she shows you can fight conditions that lead to poor health and get community organizations and government agencies to work together--and Leana herself is a model of the rare people up to that daunting task."
—Esther Dyson, Executive Founder of Wellville
“Dr Leana Wen’s life could be any one of several stories: a struggling immigrant family story, a medical scientist story, or a public sense maker story. It's all of these. I am grateful for her ability to make public health about healthcare access, substance use recovery, violence, jobs, food, community engagement—what the rest of the world calls primary health care and what the US struggles to understand. Her vision for rescuing health from politics will be important as our country recovers from the greatest threats to both in a century.”
—Dr. Bob Phillips, Director of the Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care at the American Board of Family Medicine
“Lifelines is an extraordinary book about Dr. Leana Wen’s remarkable journey from her humble beginnings with her family in LA, and through her medical and public health career as a champion for health equity and social justice. It is an inspiring story of her quest for just and fair public health policies and a future in which no one is denied access to health because of their immigrant status or inability to pay. She leaves you captivated, and filled with awe, admiration and gratitude for her public health leadership.”
—Dr. Irene Dankwa-Mullan, author, health equity advocate, editor of The Science of Health Disparities Research
“Leana Wen’s moving memoir is the story of a life heroically lived and a book beautifully written. By untangling the very complicated and intricately interwoven web of poverty, health and racism that led to her passion for public health, her quiet melodic voice becomes our voices and her story becomes our stories too. I expect this wonderful book will inspire a generation.” —Dr. Larry Brilliant, CEO of Pandefense Advisory
“Lifelines is filled with the compassion that the United States has offered to asylees and immigrants across the decades, and it is an inspiring story of how one of those immigrants has risen to reflect back that compassion in everything she does. As a public health professional, I have always been inspired by Dr. Leana Wen and her leadership. With Lifelines, I am moved by her motivations and how much Leana brings of herself in her leadership, as a woman, as an Asian American, as a doctor, and as an immigrant.”
—Kathy Ko Chin, CEO of Jasper Inclusion Advisors and former President/CEO, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
“Leana Wen’s Lifelines is at once a moving personal reminiscence and a how-to manual for public health. If our leaders had read this engrossing book prior to the pandemic - and heeded its clearly articulated counsel - we might not have landed in our current predicament.”
—Dr. Peter Lurie, President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest
"In her valuable perspective on her life and public health leadership, Dr. Leana Wen invokes the Mandarin Chinese phrase chi ku – ‘to eat bitter,’ as in to go through great hardships. It’s a fitting description of many of the personal and professional struggles she recounts amid her triumphs. By sharing her stories of perseverance on her way to becoming a distinguished public health champion, she will inspire many."
—Susan Dentzer, former Editor-in-Chief, Health Affairs and former PBS health correspondent
“Leana Wen’s Lifelines is at once a remarkable personal story, a fascinating frontlines account of fighting for the health of a city, and an inspiring call to action for a nation humbled by a pandemic. Hers is the voice of public health — inquisitive and clear-eyed, dedicated and determined. A great read for all who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work for a healthier future.”
—Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean, Johns Hopkins’s Bloomberg School of Public Health
“From fighting the ravages of systemic racism in Baltimore to being on the front lines of the national COVID response, Dr. Leana Wen has managed the gamut of public health challenges. In this first person account, she details her quintessential American journey from a young girl in China to becoming one of America’s most recognized physicians. It’s a great story that can only happen in America.”
—Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean, Brown University School of Public Health
“This is a wonderfully illuminating book. Dr. Wen’s personal story and policy prescriptions reveal why public health is our lifeline and they help us to understand her commitment to the proposition that “while opportunity is not universal, talent is.”
—Kurt Schmoke, President, University of Baltimore and former Mayor of Baltimore
“An inspiring and vulnerable story of an immigrant who rose to become one of the nation’s top health care leaders. Lifelines is a critically important and timely book that shows the world the true spirit and drive of Leana Wen.”
—Dr. David B. Agus, CEO of the Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at the University of Southern California and Author, The End of Illness
“If public health had a heroine, Dr. Leana Wen would be it. She understands that mental health IS health, addiction is treatable, and trauma is at the heart of so much that ails us. Her story reveals the devastating impact of untreated mental illnesses and substance use disorders and the incredible efforts she led to overcome them in one of America’s most vulnerable communities. Although Dr. Wen’s combination of talent, passion, and chi ku are utterly unique, I hope this book shapes a new generation of talented public health warriors in her image.”
—Kana Enomoto, former Acting Administrator, U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets. Leana Wen has devoted her amazing life to overturning this truism in our broken and seemingly hopeless healthcare system. She attacks the status quo with steely determination and is undaunted by the cacophony of loud negative voices. She rises above all of it and with her keen insight, articulate on air presence, and the clarity of her prose, she will help lead the nation to a better tomorrow, focused on improving health instead of delivering healthcare services.”
—Dr. David B. Nash, Founding Dean Emeritus, Jefferson College of Population Health
"Lifelines is the story of Dr. Leana Wen, who is an inspiring face of today's America. An immigrant from China, who went to college in Los Angeles at age 13 and to medical school at 18, Wen has rocketed to the pinnacle of the world of public health as a frequent presence on the national scene and as a calm voice of reason during the COVID-19 pandemic."
—Dr. Peter Beilenson, former health commissioner of Baltimore and Sacramento
“From the first page you enter a riveting odyssey from life in China, to the pursuit of the American dream encased in the challenges of the life of immigrants, to a pathway leading to a life of service. Dr. Wen takes us along on that personal journey revealing both ultimate joys and the starkest of realities. By her adept narrative in sharing this adventure, she proves that ‘every aspect of our lives is tied to public health.’ It’s a lifeline. Loved it!”
—Dr. Boris Lushniak, former acting U.S. Surgeon General and Dean, University of Maryland School of Public Health
“Having lost my son to the disease of addiction, the past years have been the most difficult of my life. I am continually inspired by such wonderful people like Leana Wen who are doing so much to help others. I was captivated and inspired by reading about what one person can do to bring together many others to implement common sense solutions that have prevented many families from having to bury a loved one. Lifelines is a must-read for anyone interested in public health and policy."
—Gary Mendell, Founder and Chairman of Shatterproof, Stronger than Addiction
“Dr. Leana Wen’s Lifelines intertwines her personal experience with public health while highlighting her crusade for it. From the ER to being the Health Commissioner of Baltimore, Dr. Wen shares some deeply personal stories that allow readers to relate to her journey as one of the nation's most influential health leaders and the mother of two young children. A courageous and inspiring book."
—Christy Turlington Burns, Founder & CEO of Every Mother Counts.
“This compelling narrative by Dr. Wen will immediately inspire and then settle gently to inform a sustaining and optimistic vision of the possibilities for the continually evolving America experience and especially the requirements necessary for optimizing the health of ALL our nation's people. This ‘call to action’ is a must read for students and practitioners of the health professions as well as anyone interested in the realization of a maximally healthy and inclusive society.”
—Dr. Reed Tuckson, Co-Founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID and former President of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
“COVID must teach us that only a much deeper meaning of public health is what could change our lives and define the future of our society—and this is the book that tells us why and how. Leana Wen is an immigrant who became an emergency physician who, during a pandemic, became the nation’s most persuasive and prophetic public health advocate and teacher. Lifelines is a riveting, harrowing, and ultimately profoundly hopeful life story and vocational journey that masterfully lays out the critical importance of public health in creating a just, healthy society for everyone. I can't recommend this book strongly enough.”
—Jim Wallis, Chair of Faith and Justice at Georgetown University