Breaking Ground
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Breaking Ground

My Life in Medicine

Louis W. Sullivan

With David Chanoff

Foreword by Andrew Young

Title Details

Pages: 288

Illustrations: 37 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 02/01/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4938-1

List Price: $26.95


Pub Date: 02/01/2014

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4693-9

List Price: $25.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Sarah Mills Hodge Fund

Breaking Ground

My Life in Medicine

Louis W. Sullivan

With David Chanoff

Foreword by Andrew Young

The life story of a towering champion of higher education, medicine, and accessible health care for all

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In Breaking Ground, Louis W. Sullivan, M.D. recounts his extraordinary life including his childhood in Jim Crow south Georgia and continuing through his trailblazing endeavors training to become a physician in an almost entirely white environment in the Northeast. He was the founding dean and president of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, and served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in President George H. W. Bush’s administration. Throughout his extraordinary life Sullivan has passionately championed improved access to health care for all Americans and greater diversity among the nation’s health professionals.

Sullivan’s life—from Morehouse to the White House and his ongoing work with medical students in South Africa—is the embodiment of the hopes and progress that the civil rights movement fought to achieve. His story should inspire future generations—of all backgrounds—to aspire to great things.

I have always known that Lou Sullivan was an outstanding head of Health and Human Services and a valued member of my White House team. I am convinced we are a healthier nation still today because of some of the issues Lou brought to the table with so much passion and determination; I paid attention. But I don’t think I really appreciated the man Louis Sullivan is until I read Breaking Ground. He is a true American hero, and Barbara and I are proud we have played a small part in his life’s journey.

—President George H. W. Bush

In this dramatic and revealing memoir that takes us from the segregated backwoods of Georgia to the founding of the nation’s premier African American medical school and the cabinet of President George H. W. Bush, Lou Sullivan shows how commitment, courage, a sense of humor, and a passion for health promotion and disease prevention can make life better for all Americans.

—Joseph A. Califano, Jr., top White House assistant for domestic affairs under President Lyndon Johnson and secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in the Carter administration

Lou Sullivan’s life story offers a compelling chronicle of how vision and perseverance can overcome daunting obstacles. Sullivan is a genuine American hero, and his life stands as a testament to how devotion to the service of others can breech any barrier and ascend any height.

—Jordan J. Cohen, M.D., MACP, President Emeritus, Association of American Medical Colleges

Louis Sullivan proved that when leadership is rooted in compassion and exercised with courage, it can be a powerful source of change. This book provides insight into his personal roots, his professional drive, and his historic decisions.

—Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Lou Sullivan has always believed that addressing the health requirements of the country’s neediest—its minorities and poor—will bring the greatest benefit to society as a whole. That was the theme of his tenure as secretary, and that has been the impact of the medical school he founded. In this book he writes with clarity, passion, and humor about the life he has led and the issues that dominate our current health care debates.

—from the foreword by Ambassador Andrew Young

One of the first of the civil rights generation to achieve national distinction, Sullivan is an engaging narrator as well as a passionate advocate for his beloved Morehouse and a variety of public health initiatives, particularly expanding medical education for African Americans. Sullivan is an outstanding example of a 'Morehouse man' who has made a difference; this narrative of his life and legacy will entertain and inspire.

—Library Journal

This book is an inspiration and insightful storyabout a man whose tireless work makes theworld a healthier place.

—Pure Politics

Dr. Sullivan has made remarkable strides in expanding medical education, increasing opportunities for African Americans, and improving the health of the nation. This autobiography is a fascinating glimpse of the journey from segregation to recognition as a national leader for health care education and reform.

—Kathy Davies, Georgia Library Quarterly


Phillis Wheatley Book Award, Harlem Book Fair


NAACP Image Award, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

About the Author/Editor

Louis W. Sullivan (Author)
DR. LOUIS SULLIVAN is the founding dean and first president of Morehouse School of Medicine (now president emeritus). He was secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the George H. W. Bush administration. He is chair of the board of the National Health Museum in Atlanta and the Washington, D.C.–based Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professionals. He is author of The Morehouse Mystique: Becoming a Doctor at the Nation’s Newest African American Medical School (with Marybeth Gasman).

David Chanoff (With)
DAVID CHANOFF has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, and the New Republic. His sixteen books include collaborations with former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William Crowe Jr., and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.