• What the Eyes Don't See

  • A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City
  • By: Mona Hanna-Attisha
  • Narrated by: Mona Hanna-Attisha
  • Length: 11 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (676 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Notable Book 

The dramatic story of the Flint water crisis, by a relentless physician who stood up to power.

“Stirring...[a] blueprint for all those who believe...that ‘the world...should be full of people raising their voices.’” (The New York Times)

“Revealing, with the gripping intrigue of a Grisham thriller.” (O: The Oprah Magazine)

Here is the inspiring story of how Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, alongside a team of researchers, parents, friends, and community leaders, discovered that the children of Flint, Michigan, were being exposed to lead in their tap water - and then battled her own government and a brutal backlash to expose that truth to the world. Paced like a scientific thriller, What the Eyes Don’t See reveals how misguided austerity policies, broken democracy, and callous bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk. And at the center of the story is Dr. Mona herself - an immigrant, doctor, scientist, and mother whose family’s activist roots inspired her pursuit of justice. What the Eyes Don’t See is a riveting account of a shameful disaster that became a tale of hope, the story of a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for their - and all of our - children.

Praise for What the Eyes Don’t See

“It is one thing to point out a problem. It is another thing altogether to step up and work to fix it. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a true American hero.” (Erin Brockovich)

“A clarion call to live a life of purpose.” (The Washington Post)

“Gripping...entertaining... Her book has power precisely because she takes the events she recounts so personally.... Moral outrage present on every page.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Personal and emotional... She vividly describes the effects of lead poisoning on her young patients.... She is at her best when recounting the detective work she undertook after a tip-off about lead levels from a friend.... ‛Flint will not be defined by this crisis,’ vows Ms. Hanna-Attisha.” (The Economist)

“Flint is a public health disaster. But it was Dr. Mona, this caring, tough pediatrician turned detective, who cracked the case.” (Rachel Maddow)

©2018 Mona Hanna-Attisha (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A stirring and personal account.... For all her doggedness, Hanna-Attisha is a goofy, appealing, very human narrator.... Hers is the book I’d recommend to those coming to the issue for the first time; the crisis becomes personalized through the stories of her patients and their parents.” (Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

“Mona Hanna-Attisha’s account of that urban man-made disaster reads both as a detective story and as an exposé of government corruption.... Her book’s message is that we each have the power to fix things, to make the world safer by opening one another’s eyes to problems. Her book reinforced my belief that the first step to becoming a citizen activist is seeing the world as it should be, not as it is given to you.” (The Seattle Times

“Essential for all readers who care about children, health, and the environment. This should be required reading for public servants as an incisive cautionary tale, and for pediatricians and youth advocates as a story of heroism in the ranks of people who have the capacity to make a difference.” (Library Journal)  

What listeners say about What the Eyes Don't See

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Eye Opening

The below quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds me of Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's courage act.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Reliving her accounts of her discovery of lead in Flint, Michigan water was eye opening. She stood up for what was right no matter how uncomfortable it got! We need more people in this world like this!

Excellent book! I'm recommending it to my book club.

7 people found this helpful

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a hard pill to swallow but a must read

A harrowing account of a doctor's mission to do the right thing and save the children of Flint from the low regulation and low amount of concern for the downtrodden. I'll be giving copies of Dr Mora's book for everyone on my Christmas list this year.

4 people found this helpful

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What the Eyes Don't See

Living and working in Detroit, just south of Flint, MI, I had heard about this story mostly through the media. However hearing the backstory through the physician who brought this to public attention makes it even more compelling and frightening. To know the lengths that government will go through to save a few dollars, at the cost of human lives and well-being is another pathetic example of environmental injustice/racism. I especially enjoyed the author's own personal story, and the story of her family, all of which lend credibility to her task of bringing the Flint Water Crisis to light, and made the book enjoyable to listen to. Kudos for having the author narrate her own story. Hearing the inflections in her voice, especially during some of the more difficult parts, pulled me and into her story and held me captive in my garage or parking structure, not unlike "NPR Moments" I have had on occasion. I am appreciative of the enormous task this must have been to write a book so soon after the incident had occurred. It is still fresh in the minds of many of us who had heard only peripherally what was going on in Flint.

3 people found this helpful

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Arrogant and annoying overly dramatic voice

I wanted a factual story of the water crisis in Flint; this is not that book. It is a book about how great the author is. Looking at lead level data in the EMR doesn’t make her an amazing scientist. I also felt that it was read in an overly dramatic way. It would have had more impact to just read it straight and factually without the dramatic inflection.

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Great Topic, Boring Read

This is a great topic of discussion. The flint water crisis is a major issue, but the delivery of everything was terrible. I was bored 90% of the book. It could’ve easily been cut in half and given a better affect on the reader/listener.

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Amazing a Woman and Work

After having met Dr. Hanna-Attisha at a Michigan Alumni dinner, I needed to listen to this book. She is a high energy, authentic, and brave medical researcher/pediatrician. Very inspiring story, reminding me that, when the opportunity to create a change becomes a responsibility, there is, for some, no other choice. She embodies the “Michigan Woman.” Many thanks to Dr. Mona’s family, for supporting her as she did what she needed to do for the children of Flint, Michigan.

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A story every Michigander should hear

This is an environmental justice story that everyone should know about. But Michiganders especially should listen to it and reflect.

It speaks to the choices we have ahead and the challenges we face. It’s a story of racism, greed, negligence, and public health.

It’s also a story that perfectly highlights the value of objective scientific study and a free press.

The book weaves together broad perspectives with a vivid recounting of the Flint Crisis. Compelling throughout, I highly recommend it.

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A must read for advocates!

Dr Hanna-Attisha tells her story with passion and conviction. I appreciated the information regarding lead and the lead industry in between chapters of narrative. As a pediatric subspecialist myself I hope to have her strength and courage if face with a similar situation.

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Unexpected melding of themes

Much more than the story of the crises of lead in Flint, Michigan's, water, this book combines the pain a pediatrician feels at knowing her young patients are in danger, the frustration and self-doubt as she tries to help., and an illuminating view of the scientific and governmental networking she learns to do to accomplish her goals. Adding to the depth of the story are the warm personal stories of family history and tradition.

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Scary - Is my water safe?

I really enjoyed this book. Dr Mona has a wonderful voice that is soothing to hear. I loved how she wove Michigan and Iraqi history into the story as well as included her personal stories from her family. I was disappointed and somewhat angry to hear how politics and money was more important than the water conditions. Flint residents are blessed to have Dr Mona and the other professions who understood the importance of advocating for the community. I now wonder, is my water safe! If it could happen in Michigan and DC, it could occur anywhere in America.

2 people found this helpful