HE WANTED THE MOON : THE MADNESS AND MEDICAL GENIUS OF DR. PERRY BAIRD, AND HIS DAUGHTER'S QUEST TO KNOW HIM
by Mimi Baird with Eve Claxton
She never really knew her father. He was not around for most of her childhood. When Mimi Baird was six years old, he had stopped coming home. She would ask where he was. The answer was usually "away" or that he was "ill." Most of the time, all of her questions about her father went unanswered. The only time Mimi got to see him again was for a very short time in 1959 right before his death.
Many years later (1994), Mimi received a package on her doorstep. Inside was a manuscript: her father's memoirs. By organizing these stacks of papers in meaningful piles, she finally discovered what had happened to him all of those lost years.
Dr. Perry Baird was a well-known dermatologist in Boston back in the late 1920s and 1930s. He had a very busy practice and people flocked all over the world to see him. Early on in his profession, he became fascinated with the background of manic depression. He did experiments with other doctors, but by the time they were published, he began to suffer from it himself. Dr. Baird was institutionalized many times against his will, his medical license was revoked, and his family was told to forget about him.
"Echoes from a Dungeon Cell" presents a portrait of a man who was an observer of his own condition, living with a disease for which, at the time, there was no cure for. The manuscript shows both clear-headed thinking and manic deterioration. It must be the first time somebody who was afflicted with this disease was able to sit down and write about what went on.
He Wanted the Moon is an unforgettable fast read where you constantly shake your head in disbelief. From Dr. Baird's writings (you feel as if you're sitting in the same room with him, especially as he describes the brutal treatments he had) and what Mimi found out about her father (through her research and interviews), this book is truly amazing. What an eye-opener.