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"Ted Fink's wife heard the explosion from the living room, where she sat reading the day's mail and sipping iced tea. She ran to the front door and saw a massive curling fireball. Her husband was in the flames, she was certain. She called 911, asking for help at the farm." "So begins Michael McCarthy's portrayal of a real-life nightmare: an Illinois corn farmer so badly burned in a tractor accident that only his feet, protected by his new steel-toe boots, escaped the flames. While he lay unconscious, it was up to his wife Rhoda, with no way of knowing how disabled or disfigured her husband would be after multiple surgeries, to decide whether to allow doctors to enshroud him in a cocoon of artificial skin, or allow him die." "This story carries the reader through the Finks' agonizing experience as Ted is sedated into a coma for six months while Rhoda is left alone to contemplate this life-or-death decision. Even the possibility of saving Ted depends upon the product of laboratories at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There the story shifts, as Mr. McCarthy takes the reader to describe the long-shot development of the world's first artificial skin and the ambitious Greek chemist who refused to let his dream of inventing it die. Because this new skin enables people to survive traumas as never before, it also forces hard choices - with unpredictable consequences - on ordinary people." "To gather scenes that are by turns wrenching, beautiful, and searing, Mr. McCarthy, who met the Finks while working on their story for the Wall Street Journal, talked with them at length over two years at their farm. His narrative of tragedy and redemption weaves together a saga of six generations of Midwestern farmers while revealing the dark side of a nostalgic occupation bedeviled by accident and death."--BOOK JACKET.