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Urgent calls from distant places:

An Emergency Doctor’s Notes about Life and Death on the Frontiers of East Africa


Jan 30, 2023

We celebrated the launch of Urgent Calls at Newtonville Books, in Newton MA.  Thanks for Mary and her team, and everyone who showed up for the signing!

Jan 30, 2023

In the Feb edition of Kirkus Reviews!! called Urgent Calls “An enthralling portrait of high-wire emergency care performed under the most trying circumstances….The author’s gripping, evocative prose conveys the adrenalized pressure of emergency care….He also captures the plangent ironies of his inability to treat Africa’s manifold dysfunctions…. The result is a true-life medical drama that combines tense heroics with mordant reflections.”“Our Verdict: Get It!”
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NEWS! Urgent Calls has been featured in the following media: 
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Praise for Urgent Calls
“Prepare yourself for harrowing tales of daring landings on tree-lined dirt runways, emergency medical care rendered under the blazing African sun on patients at the verge of death, eye-opening insight into the longstanding effects of colonialism on East Africa, and one doctor’s profound journey of self-discovery and what it means to humble oneself in the service of others.  Marc-David Munk brings the East African Flying Doctors to life in his thrilling and insightful memoir, Urgent Calls from Distant Places. An outstanding read! I highly recommend."  
Dr. Jay Wellons: author of All That Moves Us (voted one of the best books of 2022 by The New Yorker and Publishers Weekly.)
"Urgent Calls From Distance Places is not only a powerful and dramatic portrait of medical relief work in rural Africa, it’s a deeply-felt and utterly accurate critique of the cruel moral failings of American healthcare as well.  Marc-David Munk is seeking the essential in medicine regardless of where one is in the world, and approaches his story with humility, a synthetic intelligence, wisdom, and an ultimately affirming reverence."
Dr. Frank Huyler: author of The Blood of Strangers, White Hot Light and Right of Thirst.
“...this book is an absolute home run. One of the best books I have read by a physician writer ever. It is a series of vignettes about his time as a flight physician in Africa. It combines the perfect mix of medicine, culture, religion, socioeconomics and geopolitics of the region. Wow…just pure wowness.”
Dr. Louis Profeta: author of bestselling book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He's God
“This memoir is a brilliant record of the experiences of one humble physician searching for meaning...  the altruistic human spirit exemplified by Munk somehow thrives and provides sophisticated brief care to those whose needs are unimaginable. The writing style and humanity and sensitivities of the author lead to an unforgettable read."
Paul M Paris MD., F.A.C.E.P., LLD(Hon): Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Praise for Urgent Calls
"The history of the region, the challenge of treating patients with sometimes obscure tropical diseases, the selfless service of so many local workers who provide care in resource poor settings—and many other topics—are all discussed by Dr. Munk in a candid and empathetic way. I found myself nodding in agreement to many of his observations, and I was impressed by his ability to capture the essence of remote medical care so accurately. 
I hope readers will take the time to delve into this excellent story of humanitarian adventure, expertly told by someone who lived it. They won’t be disappointed."


Gregory H. Bledsoe, MD, MPH
Former Surgeon General for the State of Arkansas, Chief Editor of Expedition & Wilderness Medicine
"This first book with numerous quick read vignettes of emergency medical calls will surely capture and intrigue any reader. The text is rich with medical adventure, and stories that will touch one’s mind and heart… Munk is able to engage diverse individuals from around the world in a sophisticated fashion. Only a handful of physicians have the combination of knowledge, skills, and attitude to take on this kind of unique work and to craft the many wondrous stories in Urgent Calls.  A fabulous read."  
Dr. Walt Stoy
 Professor Emeritus, former Director of Educational and International Emergency Medicine at the Center for Emergency Medicine
“The core elements of humanistic medical practice are woven throughout, but the frank, unadorned nature of much of what we as physicians do in that practice is not hidden or disregarded…. the narrative was accurate and honest but always in balance … [Urgent Calls from Distant Places] is a major contribution to telling the unique stories of a life well-lived in the practice of the healing art we know as medicine.”
Dr. Ron Stewart OC, ONS
Professor Emeritus, Former Minister of Health for Nova Scotia, Named a ‘Hero of Emergency Medicine’ by the American College of Emergency Physicians
"A different take on East Africa, from a flying doctor's perspective. Beautiful, scary, violent but filled with human empathy and warmth....A harsh story with heart-warming moments of humour, humanity’s shared suffering and the dedication of people who care."
Reedsy Discovery
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About Urgent Calls from distant places

In 2008, during an in-between time in his life, a young American doctor sends an unsolicited email to the famed AMREF Flying Doctors Service in Kenya.  He asks if they needed an experienced physician for a few months, to staff air rescue flights. 


The doctor is at a personal crossroads, disillusioned with impersonal corporate medicine. He needs time and space to ground himself and to re-evaluate his vocation.


Miraculously, there is an opening.  


He soon arrives at the Nairobi airport with a duffel bag of clothes, a stethoscope, and a laptop to write a blog for friends.  The next morning, he is in an air ambulance bound for the Tanzanian bush.  

Readers join the doctor and his team on twenty different flights to eleven East African countries, to rescue critically ill and injured patients.  Supported by a logistics and risk management crew, the team flies to such hostile areas as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. The doctor treats patients with bullet wounds, malaria, parasitic tropical diseases, routine heart attacks and overdoses. Along the way, readers learn the doctor’s unconventional path to medicine and his internal wiring and motivations.  

Each chapter of the book details a different rescue. The medicine is complex and fascinating, but even more engaging are the people, geographies, and political situations that the team encounters. The reader meets filmmakers, refugees, albinos, NGO volunteers, Ugandan soldiers, US snipers, herders from ancient African tribes, Kenyans having psychotic breaks, and average tourists on safari experiencing the worst day of their lives. 

About Urgent Calls
About Dr. Munk

About Marc-David Munk, MD

Marc-David Munk is a Canadian/American emergency physician and healthcare executive. Over the past decade, he has held leadership roles at various nontraditional healthcare delivery organizations in the US and abroad.  

Munk grew up in Switzerland and Canada.  He graduated from Colgate University with a BA in philosophy and religion and completed an MPH in international health from Boston University.  After graduating from Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College, he did residency training in emergency medicine, completed a clinical fellowship in international health at the University of Pittsburgh, and then completed a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at Peru’s Gorgas Program. He also holds a master’s degree in health care management from Harvard University.  
Munk lives outside Boston with his wife and his two children.
Urgent Calls from Distant Places is his first book. 
"The airliner was filled with a mix of African businessmen in shiny suits; worn-out UN workers in khakis and Oxford cloth shirts; evangelicals, who had prayed in a huddle and held hands before boarding; excited National Health Service nurses, home for a visit; and a gaggle of Germans in sensible shoes whom I guessed were headed for safari. 
We had crossed the Kenyan frontier in darkness and begun the descent toward Nairobi’s Kenyatta airport. Only when the city lights appeared in the distance did I suddenly feel ill at ease, uncharacteristically anxious about this trip. 


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Urgent Calls From Distant Places

Urgent Calls from Distant Places Cover
ISBN 979-8-9894724-3-7
Softcover Print
ISBN 979-8-9894724-2-0
Hardcover Print
ISBN 979-8-9894724-0-6
ISBN 979-8-9894724-4-4
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FLYING DOCTORS Flights in East Africa

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