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Walter Kempner and the Rice Diet book jacket View Table of Contents and Introductory Material
ISBN978-1-59460-885-8

Walter Kempner and the Rice Diet

Challenging Conventional Wisdom

by Barbara Newborg, Florence Nash

2011 $35.00 274 pp paper

Tags: Biography, Medicine, Regional Interest

This title is out of print and may have reduced or no availability. Please contact us for more information about ordering. (919) 489-7486.


In 1934, a brilliant young scientist, Walter Kempner (1903-1997), was brought as a refugee from Nazi Germany to join the faculty of Duke Hospital’s department of medicine. The first AMA presentation, in 1944, of his unconventional research in the origins and treatment of metabolic diseases provoked wide attention and considerable controversy, but the results of his strict diet regimen were undeniable. Patients flocking to Durham for the famous Rice Diet found their diabetes, kidney and cardiovascular diseases—once considered fatal—cured or greatly improved. The headline-grabbing success of Dr. Kempner’s diet contributed significantly over the years to Durham’s economic growth and Duke’s transformation into a world-famous center for medical research and care.

From his arrival at Duke, Kempner worked to help friends get out of Germany. For several who had been scholars in pre-war Germany he found positions here. They and a few others associated with the Rice Diet became a close-knit community in exile around the central figure of Dr. Kempner.

One, author Barbara Newborg, worked with him for 40 years, much of that time as his chief medical associate. This first-hand account of Kempner’s life and of his work comprises two dramatic interrelated narratives. The story of a charismatic but always controversial personality and his circle of accomplished followers, and their wartime experience as refugees and exiles, will interest general readers, including thousands of “Ricers.” For medical professionals and scholars, the book documents historic research that elucidated underlying principles of kidney, diabetic and cardiovascular disorders, and their successful treatment without drugs.

The book includes many rare personal photographs (which Kempner suppressed during his life) and clinical images including graphs, x-rays, eye-grounds, and photos.

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