The Alarming History of Medicine/Amusing Anecdotes from Hippocrates to Heart Transplants

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9780312104115: The Alarming History of Medicine/Amusing Anecdotes from Hippocrates to Heart Transplants

Gathers the real stories behind discoveries in medicine and humorous anecdotes about early cures and procedures

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About the Author:

Richard Gordon is a doctor who has written over forty books on or about medicine, including the famous Doctor in the House series. Dr. Gordon lives in London.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Idiosyncratic, crotchety--and very funny--history of medicine by the British author of Doctor in the House (which launched the popular 1950's-60's film and TV series) and a slew of other novels with a medical theme. Gordon express no awe for those who practice medicine--he calls then ``a rum lot''--and he numbers at only 12 the ``masterly discoveries'' of the discipline: The history of medicine, he says, is ``largely the substitution of ignorance by fallacies.'' One-liners abound throughout the text: ``The seventeenth-century physician was useless but decorative''; ``Victorian physicians were brilliant at identifying all the diseases that they had no idea how to cure.'' Pasteur, Jenner, Lister, Nightingale, Florey, and other familiar names crop up as Gordon reveals how medical advances like the discovery of microbes, the prevention and treatment of various diseases and infections, and the discovery of anaesthesia (which permitted the development of surgery) actually came about. The author categorizes these achievements as ``good, but limited. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if the cancer don't get us the arteriosclerosis must.'' Although Gordon starts his pin-pricking report with the ancient Greeks, his approach isn't strictly chronological: Surgery is treated separately--as are sex, the British health system, and Freud--and there's an entertaining chapter on odd practices and wondrous cures: for whooping cough, ``drink water from the skull of a bishop.'' A delightful and informative survey that puts medicine into perspective as just another endeavor fraught with all the usual human frailties. (Thirty-nine illustrations) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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