Born in the Falkland Islands during his father’s posting there with the Colonial Service, Binns would move with his family on subsequent postings first to India and then to Chinese Turkestan, the latter reached only after an arduous trek through the Himalayas. After the Second World War, he returned to Britain, enrolling in medical school at the University of London after completing high school. Later, Binns specialized in obstetrics and gynaecology at Oxford. Upon completing his training he worked in Uganda, just as Idi Amin was rising to power. Following a stint back in England he moved to Winnipeg with his wife Elaine (also a physician) and children, where he practiced obstetrics and gynaecology.
Displeased with changes in medical administration, he returned to university in San Francisco, qualifying in infectious diseases just as the AIDS epidemic hit. His later career included a decade teaching at the University of Manitoba and working trips to the Canadian Arctic, where he learned firsthand of the medical and social challenges facing the Inuit.
Improbable Journeys – part travelogue, part medical memoir – paints a remarkable portrait of people and places as well as answering the timeless question of what makes for a successful healer.