Thursday, May 24, 2012



 I think for most of us, we take our doctors for granted (ignoring what it costs these days). We expect them to patch up scrapes and solve medical mysteries. If we only understood their training and how doctors have evolved over time, we can better understand how to communicate with them. Doctors: the illustrated history of medical pioneers by Sherwin B Nuland provides a great deal of insight into the subject.

The book is a large coffee table size book, which is unfortunate because it may discourage some from reading this. It is beautifully illustrated and printed on glossy paper. Each chapter is organized chronologically starting from the earliest known records of Hippocrates to modern times. It would be impossible to include every major advancement for 2,000 years, so the book just has highlights. The early history chapters were rather dull, but each successive chapter became increasingly more interesting. I loved the chapter on the discovery of the stethoscope and the development of pediatric cardiology. There are nuggets of information that I gleaned that helped me to see doctors in a new light.

Just a few caveats with this book. The author does share his opinions and interpretations rather freely which may be off putting. He has a definite point of view about the political and religious influences on medicine, which are mostly negative. If you can look past or disregard his opinions, then the book is a standout. Also, Dr. Nuland is a surgeon and there is an emphasis on surgery related history in the later chapters.

Book rating: 5 stars.

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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