Walter B. Cannon: Science and Society

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9780674002517: Walter B. Cannon: Science and Society

This second volume completes the story begun in Walter B. Cannon: The Life and Times of a Young Scientist (Harvard University Press, 1987), tracing the middle and late years of one of America's most distinguished medical scientists.

It resumes during World War II with Cannon's battlefield work on traumatic shock in England and France, and follows him to Harvard Medical School as he investigated the workings of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system, reaffirmed his emergency theory of the sympathico-adrenal system, and developed his now-famous concept of homeostasis and pioneer contributions to the newly emerging field of neuro-endocrinology. This volume also recounts Cannon's work with society on a broader scale, including defending the practice of animal experimentation, the rescue of European medical émigrés fleeing the Nazis and Fascists, and providing medical aid to the Spanish Loyalists and to China. Moreover, as a senior statesman of science, Cannon helped guide policies and programs that shaped the future of medical research, practice, and education.

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This is thoroughly engaging and [a] very readable account. It not only surveys the life and works of Walter B. Cannon but also provides a wide-ranging tableau of early-twentieth-century physiology. (Otniel E. Dror Journal of the History of Biology)

The strength of the book is its single-minded focus and clarity. Scholars of Cannon's theories of shock, homeostasis, physiology of the emotions, and the chemical mediation of nerve impulses may delight in the thoroughly and lucidly written science. Rich with detail extracted from a surfeit of primary sources, the second volume is even more satisfying than the first. (Timothy G. Buchman and Nancy Kent Chambers JAMA)

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