Chelsea Green Publishing

It's Probably Nothing

More Adventures of a Vermont Country Doctor

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
September 09, 2011

$17.95 $14.36

It's Probably Nothing continues the tale woven by Dr. Beach Conger in his first book, Bag Balm and Duct Tape. This new collection sees Conger and his wife yearning for new challenges and relocating to the suburbs of Philadelphia after 25 years in mythical Dumster, Vermont. Conger gamely takes a job in a teaching hospital in the poorest part of the city and gets to experience urban bureaucratized medicine and its trials- a far cry from the more idiosyncratic and hands-on version he practiced in Vermont. After 5 years Conger and his wife move back to Dumster, where he rediscovers more about his patients' capacity to both cope and cherish one another than he expected.

Each of the tightly constructed chapters is centered around a particular patient or particular theme in medicine. It's Probably Nothing is both funny and poignant, and showcases both Conger's irreverent view into medicine and his profound empathy for the characters he encounters along the way. His experience highlights how medicine-and problems with out current medical system-can remain the same and yet be vastly different across class, race, and region. Among the people the reader meets are urban drag queens, small-town farmers and other heroes, Vermont celebrities, and the occasional reclusive author.


"It's Probably Nothing is actually quite wonderful. With wit and humility, but above all with deep affection, Beach Conger captures perfectly what it is to be a Vermonter. This book is a must-read for doctors and patients alike."--Peter Welch, US Representative, Vermont

"Dr. Beach Conger's It's Probably Nothing is the inspiring tale of a fine and caring physician's life and times in two places that could scarcely be more different: rural Vermont and inner-city Philadelphia. Written with great humor, wisdom, common sense, and compassion, It's Probably Nothing is a uniquely American memoir by a very insightful American individualist. I loved it."--Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg

"Doctor Conger is back again! But this time deeper, warmer, and suffused with the notion that there's no hurry; each Vermont story is too good to be rushed. You can see them coming, but you can't stop ambling with him to the conclusions. It's Probably Nothing is his best collection yet.--Willem Lange, writer, A Yankee Notebook; commentator and host, VPR and NHPTV; author, A Dream of Dragons

Book News-
In this follow-up to his first memoir on practicing in rural Vermont, Harvard Medical School graduate Conger moves from the farm to inner-city Philadelphia, where he treats patients who struggle for food, shelter, and safety. After five years, he returns to the isolated rural community of Dummerston, Vermont. Conger describes humorous encounters with various offbeat patients; on the more serious side, he reflects on problems of our healthcare system. The author now teaches at Dartmouth Medical School.

Whether floundering as a fish out of water in an inner-city Philadelphia hospital or explaining C-reactive protein (CRP) to a patient, if Conger appears to be an iconic iconoclast, so much the better. Because, as a "senior" physician, he is no more likely to allow a superfluous, if expensive, technology to get in the way of his hands-on method of diagnosis than he is to let so trifling a thing as a fact hinder a good yarn. The way he tells it, truth does not suffer facts. And Conger's truth doesn't suffer at all. It is biting where the pompous beg to be taken down; it is wry, witty, and deprecating regarding himself and modern health care; and it is respectful of the patients he tends. Truly a lover of the written word, Conger wraps his stories in language that is loving and engagingly imaginative-for a doctor, that is. By capturing the essence of individuals such as a Norma Lebrec or a C. Frederick Selkirk in his literary embrace, Conger portrays folks we all either know or would like to know.


Beach Conger

Beach Conger, M.D., was born in 1941 in New York City and grew up in Pleasantville, N.Y. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1967 and did his training in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and the University of California San Francisco. From 1969 to 1971 he was an offer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the CDC. From 1977 to 2001, he practiced general internal medicine at Mt. Ascutney Hospital in Windsor, Vermont. He then spent five years teaching hospital medicine at Medical College of Pennsylvanvia and Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, serving as chief of hospital medicine at the latter institution. In 2006 he returned to Vermont to practice in Windsor. He is a member of the Dartmouth Medical School faculty, where he precepts medical students in their primary care rotations.


Two Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life - Beach Conger, MD

Beach Conger and It's Probably Nothing


Loving and Leaving the Good Life

Loving and Leaving the Good Life

By Helen Nearing

Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of Living the Good Life and many other bestselling books, lived together for 53 years until Scott's death at age 100. Loving and Leaving the Good Life is Helen's testimonial to their life together and to what they stood for: self-sufficiency, generosity, social justice, and peace.

In 1932, after deciding it would be better to be poor in the country than in the city, Helen and Scott moved from New York Ciy to Vermont. Here they created their legendary homestead which they described in Living the Good Life: How to Live Simply and Sanely in a Troubled World, a book that has sold 250,000 copies and inspired thousands of young people to move back to the land.

The Nearings moved to Maine in 1953, where they continued their hard physical work as homesteaders and their intense intellectual work promoting social justice. Thirty years later, as Scott approached his 100th birthday, he decided it was time to prepare for his death. He stopped eating, and six weeks later Helen held him and said goodbye.

Loving and Leaving the Good Life is a vivid self-portrait of an independent, committed and gifted woman. It is also an eloquent statement of what it means to grow old and to face death quietly, peacefully, and in control. At 88, Helen seems content to be nearing the end of her good life. As she puts it, "To have partaken of and to have given love is the greatest of life's rewards. There seems never an end to the loving that goes on forever and ever. Loving and leaving are part of living."

Helen's death in 1995 at the age of 92 marks the end of an era. Yet as Helen writes in her remarkable memoir, "When one door closes, another opens." As we search for a new understanding of the relationships between death and life, this book provides profound insights into the question of how we age and die.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Loving and Leaving the Good Life

Helen Nearing

Paperback $25.00



By Diane Ott Whealy

Daughter of Iowa farmers, Missouri homesteader, and mother of five, Diane Ott Whealy never anticipated that one day she would become a leader in a grass-roots movement to preserve our agricultural biodiversity. The love for the land and the respect for heirloom seeds that Diane shared with her husband, Kent Whealy, led to their starting Seed Savers Exchange in 1975.

Seed Savers Exchange, the nation's premier nonprofit seed-saving organization, began humbly as a simple exchange of seeds among passionate gardeners who sought to preserve the rich gardening heritage their ancestors had brought to this country. Seeds that Ott Whealy herself inherited from her paternal grandparents were the impetus for the formation of Seed Savers Exchange, whose membership has grown from a small coterie to more than thirteen thousand. Its influence has been felt in gardens across America.

Ott Whealy's down-to-earth narrative traces her fascinating journey from Oregon to Kansas to Missouri then back home to Iowa where, in 1986, Heritage Farm became the permanent home of Seed Savers Exchange. Her heartwarming story captures what is best in the American spirit: the ability to dream and, through hard work and perseverance, inspire others to contribute their efforts to a cause. Thus was created one of the nation's most admired nonprofits in the field of genetic preservation.

Available in: Hardcover

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Diane Ott Whealy

Hardcover $25.00

Killing the Cranes

Killing the Cranes

By Edward Girardet

Few reporters have covered Afghanistan as intrepidly and humanely as Edward Girardet. Now, in a gripping, personal account, Girardet delivers a story of that nation's resistance fighters, foreign invaders, mercenaries, spies, aid workers, Islamic extremists, and others who have defined Afghanistan's last thirty years of war, chaos, and strife.

As a young foreign correspondent, Girardet arrived in Afghanistan just three months prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979. Over the next decades, he trekked hundreds of miles across rugged mountains and deserts on clandestine journeys following Afghan guerrillas in battle as they smuggled French doctors into the country, and as they combated each other as well as invaders. He witnessed the world's greatest refugee exodus, the bitter Battle for Kabul in the early 1990s, the rise of the Taliban, and, finally, the US-led Western military and recovery effort that began in 2001.

Girardet's encounters with key figures-including Ahmed Shah Massoud, the famed "Lion of Panjshir" assassinated by al Qaeda two days before 9/11, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Islamic extremist massively supported by the Americans during the 1980s only to become one of today's most ruthless anti-Western insurgents, and Osama bin Laden-shed extraordinary light on the personalities who have shaped the nation, and its current challenges, from corruption and narcotics trafficking to selfish regional interests.

Killing the Cranes provides crucial insights into why the West's current involvement has turned into such a disaster, not only rekindling a new insurgency, but squandering billions of dollars on a recovery process that has shown scant success.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Killing the Cranes

Edward Girardet

Paperback $19.95

Strangers Devour the Land

Strangers Devour the Land

By Boyce Richardson

First published in 1974, Strangers Devour the Land is recognized as the magnum opus among the numerous books, articles, and films produced by Boyce Richardson over two decades on the subject of indigenous people. Its subject, the long struggle of the Crees of James Bay in northern Quebec—a hunting and trapping people—to defend the territories they have occupied since time immemorial, came to international attention in 1972 when they tried by legal action to stop the immense hydro-electric project the provincial government was proposing to build around them.

The Crees argued that the integrity of their vast wilderness was essential to their way of life, but the authorities dismissed such claims out of hand. Richardson, who sat through many months of the trial, mingles the scientific and Cree testimony given in court with his own interviews of Cree hunters, and experiences in gathering information and shooting films, to produce a classic tale of cultures in collision.

In a new preface, he reveals that the Crees—now receiving immense sums of money as compensation for the loss of their lands—appear to be doing well, and to be in the process of joining modern, technological culture, while retaining the spiritual base of their traditional lives. Meanwhile, Hydro-Quebec continues to eye additional rivers on the Cree’s lands for new dams.

Available in: Paperback

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Strangers Devour the Land

Boyce Richardson, Winona LaDuke

Paperback $25.00