Book Review: Second Suns by David Oliver Relin

August 8, 2013

Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives by David Oliver Relin is a non-fiction account of two ophthalmologists who are working to alleviate blindness in third world countries. Mr. Relin was the author of a similar book, Three Cups of Tea, and tragically committed suicide after the book’s validity was discredited (the reasons for the suicide are unclear).

  • 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069254

Book Review Second Suns Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives by David Oliver Relin

My rating for Second Suns – 5

Buy this book in paper or in elec­tronic format

Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives by David Oliver Relin is an easy to read narrative of two doctors from two completely separate lives who work together by performing cataract surgery in the Himalayas. Dr. Sanduk Ruit is a Nepali doctor who pioneered the small-incision cataract surgery using inexpensive (not cheap) lenses. Geoffrey Tabin is an American living on the edge of what is considered acceptable in society. Tabin, at first, left Harvard to go mountain climbing but jointed force with Dr. Ruit.

Dr. Sanduk Ruit and Dr. Geoff Tabin await results at a rural eye camp.

Dr. Sanduk Ruit and Dr. Geoff Tabin await results at a rural eye camp. Image from:

The author doesn’t present the two doctors as flawless heroes, but as flawed human beings who are doing an extraordinary service to make a difference in a remote part of the world. The doctors founded the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) which is still working to this day to “eradicate preventable and curable blindness through high-quality ophthalmic care, education and the establishment of a world-class eye care infrastructure”.

While reading the amazing story of the two doctors, the author also delves into the culture, religion, mountain climbing and landscapes of the Himalayas. The book is well written, fast paced, inspiring and enjoyable touching on an important subject which should be the topic of conversation in many places, but sadly isn’t.

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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  • AshleyAugust 8, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I am so glad I found your site. I love the books you feature. This one nearly made me cry. I’ll be adding this to my TBR too. $13.99 is a bit steep for an ebook, is it worth that price?

    • Zohar - Man of la BookAugust 8, 2013 at 11:07 am

      I can’t tell you if it’s “worth” the price, you’ll have to be the judge of that.

      The whole issue of eBook pricing really gets under my skin 🙁

      • AshleyAugust 8, 2013 at 11:20 am

        Now that you’ve read it, would you have paid $13.99 for it? I guess that’s actually a pretty unfair question. I’ll think about it…

  • Sharon HenningAugust 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    This sounds like a very interesting book. I am going to read it. I had heard about the issues with the author’s book, “Three Cups of Tea” and all, but I did not know he committed suicide. I”m very sorry to hear it. How tragic.

  • Laurie CAugust 9, 2013 at 6:01 am

    That is sad about the author. Although I never read Three Cups of Tea, I know a lot of people were inspired by it. I think it’s human nature to write how you wished things had gone than the exact facts. Although I don’t know the details, I certainly hope he didn’t commit suicide only because of rumors about Three Cups of Tea.

  • Laurie CAugust 9, 2013 at 6:04 am

    As for e-book pricing, there is still publishing involved! It’s not sitting on the publisher’s computer already in e-book format and they’re just charging for nothing! If you think about it in terms of seeing a movie for $10, after which if you want to see the movie again you need to wait for it to come out on DVD or pay another $10, $13.99 doesn’t seem so high for something you can access more than once, any time you want to (as long as you have access to a device and electricity, I should say.)

    • Zohar - Man of la BookAugust 9, 2013 at 7:44 am

      It’s the double talk us consumers get from the publishers and inconsistencies in both rhetoric and pricing. On one hand eBooks are just like books, but on the other they’re software – so which one is it?

      I agree with what you say, but then eBooks should be a few bucks cheaper than the paperback.

      On the other hand, it’s fascinating to see the publishing industry making the same mistakes the music industry made.
      How did that go for them?

      • Laurie CAugust 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm

        I guess our only hope is the fact that most people don’t want a single short story for 99 cents the way most people want just one song from an music album! 😉

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