Democracy and DNA: American Dreams and Medical Progress

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9780809093052: Democracy and DNA: American Dreams and Medical Progress
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Weismann, Director of the Division of Rheumatology at New York University-Bellevue Hospital, succeeds in writing an entertaining chronicle of both medical knowledge and artistic advances in the Victorian era. "The meliorist dream" which he refers to in his introduction was a concept coined by George Eliot that roughly characterizes the period's intellectual belief that the world's problems might be diagnosed and solved. Weisman skillfully blends this concept of social progress with its correlate manifestations in the medical field, literature, and politics. However, he does not sacrifice one world for another, e.g. his analysis of Emily Dickinson's literary and medical conditions are equally adept. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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About the Author:

Gerald Weissmann is director of the Division of Rheumatology at New York University - Bellevue Hospital.

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Weissmann, author of The Doctor With Two Heads and Other Essays (LJ 3/15/90) and director of New York University Medical Center's Division of Rheumatology, calls for a return to traditional scientific values by showing how in the past American medicine has relied on both reason and dreams of progress to meet successfully the needs of the nation. Weaving the life of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes throughout the book, he explains how 19th-century advances in medicine were linked to social changes including the abolitionist and women's suffrage movements. He also looks at a few of the intellectual elite of poets and writers and how their work was driven by reason and dreams. Weissmann compares the discovery of DNA and its mechanisms to the abolitionist movement as a moral motivation to drive reasoned medical developments toward a better society. Weissmann argues against the relativistic and quasi-scientific practices of today (including New Age theories), but his presentation falls short. There are other more convincing history of American medicine books-for example, John Duffy's From Humors to Medical Science (Univ. of Chicago, 1993. 2d ed.) or Paul Starr's The Social Transformation of American Medicine, LJ 11/1/82). For larger history of medicine collections.
Eric D. Albright, Galter Health Sciences Lib., Northwestern Univ., Chicago
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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ISBN 10:  0809039052 ISBN 13:  9780809039050
Publisher: Hill & Wang Pub, 1996
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