The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him

By Mimi Baird with Eve Claxton


Read praise for He Wanted the Moon from some of the most well-respected voices in journalism and storytelling.

“He Wanted the Moon is one of the most disturbing and profoundly moving books I’ve read in years, and one of the great father‐daughter books of our time. It will take its place as a classic in the literature of breakdown, alongside Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind and William Styron’s Darkness Visible. The brilliant Dr. Perry Baird’s memoir lets you see up close what it is like to go through the most manic phases of bipolar disorder—it is a nightmare, but this book is a damn wonder. Through it, Mimi Baird has finally given her father the credit he was due.”
Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and Death of Santini

“An extraordinary Möbius strip of a book…Autobiography, biography, science, history and literature all in one, as instructive as any textbook and utterly impossible to put down…The text of Dr. Baird’s manuscript is haunting. The tone is one a suspense writer might struggle to sustain: The most unreliable of narrators, Dr. Baird is objective, charming, humorous, then suddenly just a little off, and then flat‐out gone, leaving an irrational stranger in his place. The reader can almost watch the circuits in his brain surge and dim just as, Ms. Baird reports, the handwriting in the manuscript morphed from disciplined to disorderly and back again.”
The New York Times 

“Baird’s lonely, angry, grief‐stricken, and occasionally grandiose account of his illness and its shattering costs is the reason we can’t put [this book] down. His sharply detailed recollections are sometimes sane and sometimes not, but his writing is lucid even when his thinking isn’t. His manuscript is a plea to understand his experience and, by extension, others’.”
The Boston Globe

“Powerful, fascinating, and completely unique. This heartbreaking book is a one‐of‐a‐kind first person window into the world of psychiatric illness before the era of drug therapies in this country. Reading He Wanted the Moon is a bit like discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls—it is one of the most eloquent, powerful and important accounts of mental illness ever put to paper.”
David Isay, founder of StoryCorps and author of Listening is An Act of Love and Ties that Bind

“Thanks to a daughter’s brave determination to excavate her absentee father’s life, we are gifted with deep personal insight into a brilliant but sick mind that could have been lost forever. This is a truly important book—a devastatingly honest account of mental illness that provides personal insight into long‐ranging travesties of psychiatric care in the U.S. Unforgettable.”
Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire

“Dr. Perry Baird’s vivid account of his own madness, and the treatment he received, is as remarkable as it is disturbing. By sharing her family’s story, Mimi Baird has certainly done a great service to her father’s memory. But she’s also made a significant contribution to the literature of mental health. He Wanted The Moon is a poignant book, and, I believe, an important one.”
Alexandra Styron, author of Reading My Father

He Wanted the Moon does for mental illness what The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks did for the science of cancer: at once reveal suffering and heal it through knowledge. By allowing her father to be heard, Mimi Baird gives voices to all Americans silenced by mental illness down the decades. A miraculous story told in a miracle of a book.”
Amity Shlaes, author of Coolidge and The Forgotten Man

“Here is how you know you have just read a wonderful book: You immediately begin telling everybody you know about it, which is exactly what I did when I finished He Wanted the Moon.”
Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic and Mad in America

He Wanted the Moon details the horrendous treatment commonly given to patients at a time when there was no known way of ameliorating the dangerous and self‐destructive behavior that often characterizes manic‐depression. This is a fascinating and informative book which I would highly recommend.”
Dr. Elliot Valenstein, author of Blaming the Brain and professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan

“Mimi Baird’s short book about her father’s long struggle with mental illness is a tale within a tale. She longed to know why he had simply disappeared one day from her life, and what she found was his own vivid account of watching himself slide into darkness. Mimi has performed a quiet miracle, giving life back to a man everyone wanted to forget.”
Thomas Powers, Pulitzer‐Prize winner and author of The Killing of Crazy Horse

“Astonishing in its illuminations…This striking and poignant family story evokes compassion for everyone affected by this cruel malady.”

“Through this moving memoir, Baird slowly brings her father back to life and reveals the sordid history of treating mental illness.”

“Perry Baird was a pioneer in attempting to understand the workings of manic depression…In bringing her father’s harrowing, tragic, and moving story to life, Mimi Baird celebrates him and gives voice to the terrible suffering the mentally ill once endured, and still do today, and challenges the prejudices and misperceptions the public continues to have about the disease.”
Publishers Weekly

“Moving…[Baird] sketches the life of a man who had done brilliantly in college and medical school—even co‐authoring a paper with the eminent physiologist Walter Cannon—but who would be felled by psychosis…A sobering account of how little we knew and how much we still have to learn about mental illness—especially how not to treat it.”
Kirkus Reviews 


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