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1. Typhoid Mary : An Urban Historical
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2. Social Transformation of American
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3. Nursing, the Finest Art: An Illustrated
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4. The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat
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5. Dr Folkman's War: Angiogenesis
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6. And If I Perish : Frontline U.S.
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7. The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic
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8. Justice at Nuremberg : Leo Alexander
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9. Dao of Chinese Medicine: Understanding
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10. The History Of Neuroscience In
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11. Plagues and Peoples
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12. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza
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13. Mutants: On Genetic Variety and
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14. Deadly Dust
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15. Pox: Genius, Madness, and the
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16. Obstetrics and Gynecology: A History
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17. The State Boys Rebellion
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18. The Barbary Plague : The Black
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19. A Brief History of Disease, Science
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20. Soul Made Flesh : The Discovery

1. Typhoid Mary : An Urban Historical
by Anthony Bourdain
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 1582341338
Catlog: Book (2001-05-04)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Sales Rank: 10839
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the best-selling author of Kitchen Confidential comes this true, thrilling tale of pursuit through the kitchens of New York City at the turn of the century.

By the late nineteenth century, it seemed that New York City had put an end to the outbreaks of typhoid fever that had so frequently decimated the city's population. That is until 1904, when the disease broke out in a household in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Authorities suspected the family cook, Mary Mallon, of being a carrier. But before she could be tested, the woman, soon to be known as Typhoid Mary, had disappeared. Over the course of the next three years, Mary worked at several residences, spreading her pestilence as she went.In 1907, she was traced to a home on Park Avenue, and taken into custody. Institutionalized at Riverside Hospital for three years, she was released only when she promised never to work as a cook again. She promptly disappeared.

For the next five years Mary worked in homes and institutions in and around New York, often under assumed names. In February 1915, a devastating outbreak of typhoid at the Sloane Hospital for Women was traced to her.She was finally apprehended and reinstitutionalized at Riverside Hospital, where she would remain for the rest of her life.

Typhoid Mary is the story of her infamous life. Anthony Bourdain reveals the seedier side of the early 1900s, and writes with his renowned panache about life in the kitchen, uncovering the horrifying conditions that allowed the deadly spread of typhoid over a decade. Typhoid Mary is a true feast for history lovers and Bourdain lovers alike.
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Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Quick Interesting Read
Author Anthony Bourdain provides the reader with a quick 148 page story of Mary Mallon, known to history as Typhoid Mary. Mary worked as a cook in the New York City area at the turn of the 20th century and unwittingly spread typhoid germs to those she served, although she, herself, appeared healthy. Author Bourdain goes into detail as to how Mary was tracked down and fingered as the culprit in the spreading of typhoid. Mary strongly denied her role in the spreading of the germs to those she served. Mary spent the last years of her unhappy life on North Brother island located just north of Riker's Island in New York City. The author also provides us with living conditions in New York City at the turn of the 20th century.I had heard of Typhoid Mary and this quick read will fill you in with some very interesting details in her life. The author concludes the book with a visit he made to Mary's grave in the Bronx in 1973 in which he, himself a cook, left his first chef's knife at the base of Mary's stone behind the tall grass as a gift to her as he said, "from cook to cook." This book will also make you think about the cleanliness of restaurants you eat in today.

5-0 out of 5 stars An old story from a new viewpoint
In Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical, Anthony Bourdain combines his skills and experiences as a chef with his unique writing talents to bring to life an often feared individual. Mary Mallon a.k.a. "Typhoid Mary" was a cook not unlike Bourdain himself, thus he is especially qualified to speak on her behalf. Most other books regarding the subject matter are either epidemiological in nature, treating her as just another case history, or historical in nature, viewing her as just another in a long line of events and placing a vast gulf between the reader and Mary herself. Bourdain comes at it with a biographical bent. There is no science here. The author wants you to feel Mary's pain, her persecution (perceived or otherwise), her frustration with not being able to do the one thing she knew how to do in order to make a living, and Anthony does a wonderful job of it. It is a very quick read, but well worth it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Ok...
I read this book for a project for a Criminalistics class for a Summer camp. I was looking forward to learning about Typhoid Mary and all about her problems as she lived her life carrying the deadly typhoid. I was a little disappointed to find out that a lot of the book was about the context of the life she lived in. I'm sure that for some...that would be a nice touch, but I was looking more forward to reading about the case than about society. But other than that, I thought it was a good read. I found myself laughing quite a bit, thanks to the clever way that Anthony Bourdain narrated this novel. Not a Number #1 choice...but not the worse i've read either. I'll let you decide.....

5-0 out of 5 stars An energetic account of a willful woman
In this diminutive book (amounting to fewer than 150 pages), the robust Bourdain tells the stormy story of 'Typhoid Mary' Mallon. The author and subject, it becomes clear, are much alike. Both are cooks, iconoclasts, and outsiders. The personalities of the two resonate with one another throughout. For the most part, this is a charitable portrait of a misunderstood woman, but Bourdain also admits that Mary had a misanthropic side. In the later part of her life, knowing she was a carrier of salmonella typhi, she worked as a cook at a hospital for women and children! At the same time, she had been wronged by the system -- treated unfairly because of her gender, her immigrant status, and her station in life. Bourdain successfully gets inside Mary's mind, and those of the bureaucrats who hounded her. His speculations on the inner thoughts of the players in this drama feel accurate. The mystery of Typhoid Mary is energetically brought to life in this wonderful account set in early-1900's New York.

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not great....
I was a bit disappointed by this book, but yet I still really love Anthony Bourdain's writing style. Bourdain's writing style is the main reason I kept reading Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical. Anyone who's had to write essays for school (especially essays based on research to back up an opinion), will be familiar with the style of this book. Basically, Mary Mallon's story, which, admittedly is very brief and could fill up about 10 pages, is strewn throughout 144 pages of Bourdain's historical research, contemplation, and witticisms. While this is interesting, it's just not really all about Mary Mallon (aka Typhoid Mary). That's okay - if that's what you're expecting. If you like Bourdain's writing style and sense of humor, then you'll like this book. If you want to really learn about the person known as Typhoid Mary, then you can probably do that somewhere else and quicker. This book is definitely good for entertainment value, but being someone who's had to write many of those "let me back up my thoughts" essays for school, I can see one when I spot one, and Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical fits the bill. ... Read more

2. Social Transformation of American Medicine
by Paul Starr
list price: $26.00
our price: $26.00
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Asin: 0465079350
Catlog: Book (1984-04-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 19005
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in American History, this is a landmark history of how the entire American health care system of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs has evolved over the last two centuries. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great history of American medicine
For anyone interested in the healthcare as a profession or area of study, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Despite the 20 years since its publication, Paul Starr's Pulitzer prize winner is still relevant today and in retrospect his projections made of the future of healthcare in America are surpisingly prescient.

The first book describes the development of the medical profession in early America providing a fascinating look at the social evolution of American society. The second book delineates the rise of doctors, hospitals and medical schools in latter half of the 19th to the early 20th century with the rise of science and a professional authority. The third book shifts the focus from the doctors and to the industry that medicine became as well as the various attempts at healthcare reform in response to rising healthcare costs.

My only criticism is that Starr should have devoted more pages to the root causes behind the rising healthcare costs that drove the reforms of the 1960-70s described in the third book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blame it on the AMA
This book traces the evolution of America's disjointed healthcare system, from the horror of the early hospitals to the formation of the medical profession. It also explains how, as the early profession was fighting for the right to exist, it took virtual possession of the rest of the healthcare system. Every Democratic president since FDR has attempted some type of major healthcare reform, only to be opposed by the American Medical Association (AMA) because organized doctorhood thought it had too much to lose.

This book is an effortless read for students of sociology or those that have a great interest in the history of medicine. Published in 1983, it easily predicts some of the current problems in American healthcare, because the powerful interests that determine the delivery of healthcare are still the same. It also predicts some of the circumstances that will finally bring America around to some sort of rational, universal, healthcare coverage.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why the US has a private health care system
This Pulitzer Prize winning history of American Medicine does a lot to explain why the domain of public health is so small in the U.S., and why health in the U.S. is mostly a private, as opposed to public, matter. It takes some fortitude to get through, but it should be required reading for anyone who has ever wondered why, for better and for worse, the US is the only developed country that does not have social provision of medical care. Hint: It's not an accident. Recommended

5-0 out of 5 stars A Comprehesive History
It was a pleasure to read Starr's enlightening, comprehensive journey of medicine in it's infancy to it's state in 1985. I hope to see an updated version filling in the intervening 17 years. An excellent book. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Starr review
A very accesible read. It easily combined my interest in social history and health care. ... Read more

3. Nursing, the Finest Art: An Illustrated History
by M. Patricia Donahue
list price: $68.95
our price: $68.95
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Asin: 0815127278
Catlog: Book (1996-01-15)
Publisher: C.V. Mosby
Sales Rank: 77142
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect gift for a nurse
This book is a great gift idea for all nurses. I bought one during my senior year of nursing school to help with a take-home exam. Not only did it help with the exam, but it was actually very interesting to read. The format of the book is nice because it has a timeline, and is organized by major historical events in nursing. Even if you don't like reading about history, the pictures tell a story themselves. It is a great coffee table book to have just to flip through and enjoy the beautiful artwork and pictures of nurses from past to present.

5-0 out of 5 stars Every nurse should own this book
This book is a treasure for the profession of nursing. I saw the first edition of this book while a nursing student in the author's nursing history course. Dr. Donahoe performed extensive research in writing this book. It is a moving account of those things that drew me to the profession of nursing and a thorough education for those unaware of nursing's history. The artwork is phenomenal and shows how nurses have been captured in art throughout history as well. ... Read more

4. The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat : The Story of the Penicillin Miracle (John MacRae Books)
by Eric Lax
list price: $25.00
our price: $17.50
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Asin: 0805067906
Catlog: Book (2004-04-12)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Sales Rank: 6355
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The untold story of the discovery of the first wonder drug, the men who led the way, and how it changed the modern world

The discovery of penicillin in 1928 ushered in a new age in medicine. But it took a team of Oxford scientists headed by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain four more years to develop it as the first antibiotic, and the most important family of drugs in the twentieth century. At once the world was transformed—major bacterial scourges such as blood poisoning and pneumonia, scarlet fever and diphtheria, gonorrhea and syphilis were defeated as penicillin helped to foster not only a medical revolution but a sexual one as well. In his wonderfully engaging book, acclaimed author Eric Lax tells the real story behind the discovery and why it took so long to develop the drug. He reveals the reasons why credit for penicillin was misplaced, and why this astonishing achievement garnered a Nobel Prize but no financial rewards for Alexander Fleming, Florey, and his team.

The Mold in Dr. Florey’s Coat is the compelling story of the passage of medicine from one era to the next and of the eccentric individuals whose participation in this extraordinary accomplishment has, until now, remained largely unknown.
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fountain of Information in a Pot-Boiler of a Story
This book covers more than twenty-five years of the quest for a viable bacteria fighter recounting the lives of the major players and further depicting the slow progress of medical invention combating infection through all history. The most critical era of this story, however, is coincidently the most important and harrowing years of the 20th century. The all too real threat of a Nazis invasion of Great Britain served as the backdrop for this story's most vital moments.
Few would argue against the notion that the discovery and creation of Penicillin as a viable life saving medication is the most important medical event of the 20th century. Mr. Lax in a detailed, can't put it down, page-turner manages to incorporate the nuances of all of the disparate personalities of the main characters whose devotion to their science and unrelenting commitment to the saving of untold millions of lives refuse to be deterred by the often overwhelming obstacles that faced them each day. In this new century when bringing a drug to market is reputed to take upwards of 10 to 15 million dollars, we watch as Dr. Florey goes before his money sources for research at Oxford and other entities of the time in hopes of raising $100.00 for supplies and comes away with $25.00. (That's right, the decimal points were not misplaced) What we see to our amazement is that they made due.
Dr. Norman Heatley was a genius at coming up with a substitute for just about every necessary hospital research tool imaginable. We share his glee when he shows the rest of the team his latest Rube Goldberg contraption for making some vital process work.
There are countless anecdotes in the day-to-day stories of the mission's successes and failures, all notes and attributions are scrupulously noted by Mr. Lax.
Surreptitious night flights to America via Lisbon with blacked out plane windows, reminiscent of many wonderful movies of the forties portraying life risking events surrounded by war had me shaking my head not simply because of the inherent palpable drama but because it all really happened.
The Americans did lend support in terms of money and ingenuity but it was this team of Oxford scientists who would not be denied. Because of them millions of lives were saved before the end of World War Two and countless millions continue to be saved as a result of the second, third and fourth generations of anti-biotic drugs spawned by their initial discovery.
Mr. Lax has, to the great satisfaction of the reader, set the record straight. He gave credit where it was due without disparaging the reputations of any of many important contributors. It was pleasing and insightful to learn the true story of the greatest medical discovery of the century. Further, that these scientists did their work for the betterment of mankind rather than for the unabated lust for money and power that now confront us daily in news reports cannot be ignored.
My words and recollections only touch the tip of the iceberg that is this story, I urge everyone to pick up a copy of The Mold In Dr. Florey's Coat and then pass it on to a friend. Who knows maybe the notion of doing things for all of the right reasons might just start to spread. ... Read more

5. Dr Folkman's War: Angiogenesis and the Struggle to Defeat Cancer
list price: $25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375502440
Catlog: Book (2001-02-15)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 183450
Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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Early in 1998, New York Times science reporter and author Gina Kolata happened to be seated at a banquet next to the Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson. When Kolata asked Watson what was new in the world of science, he replied, "Judah Folkman and angiogenesis, that's what's new. Judah is going to cure cancer in two years."

Folkman, a longtime physician and medical researcher at Harvard University and Children's Hospital, was caught off guard by the excited news reports that followed Watson's remark, but there was good reason for excitement. For nearly four decades, when not busy doing such things as inventing the heart pacemaker and attending to hundreds of patients, Folkman had been puzzling out a peculiarity of tumors: at some point during their formation, they sent forth chemical signals that in effect "recruited" blood vessels to feed them. If those signals could be intercepted through well-targeted drugs, Folkman reasoned, and the blood supply to cancerous formations thus interrupted, then the tumors themselves might be starved to death, or at least to dormancy.

In this book, Newsday writer Robert Cooke offers an accessible account of Folkman's work on angiogenesis, or the formation of blood vessels, which may well point the way to new treatments for cancer and related illnesses. Following Folkman's roundabout trail, one marked by considerable resistance on the part of doubtful colleagues, readers will gain a sense of how medical research is conducted--and, almost certainly, a sense of wonder at the medical breakthroughs that, as James Watson hinted, are just around the corner. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Modern Odyssey of Medical Innovation
This book clearly deserves many more than five stars.

Dr. Folkman's War contains many valuable insights including how to: Raise children to be outstanding people; be an astute observer about nature to unlock new lessons; pioneer in a new field of science; and be persistent about something important. When the history of medicine in the twentieth century is written, Dr. Judah Folkman will be considered one of the most important figures. This book is the most accessible and complete source of information about his remarkable life and accomplishments.

Dr. Folkman's research to date "has found applications in twenty-six diseases as varied as cancer, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, psoriasis, arthritis, and endometriosis." "Ordinarily, researchers working in any of these fields do not communicate with each other."

Angiogenesis looks at the way that capillaries are formed in response to the body's biochemistry to help and harm health. Tumors depend on this action to get the blood supply they need to grow. Wounds also rely on a similar mechanism to grow scar tissue.

I have been following Dr. Folkman's career for over twenty-five years, and heard him speak about angiogenesis just a little over two years ago. Because I felt I was well-informed, I almost skipped this book. That would have been a major mistake on my part. Dr. Folkman's War contained much new and interesting information that helped me to better understand the lessons of Dr. Folkman's life, as well as the future implications of angiogenesis.

Unknown to me, Dr. Folkman had also played a role as an innovator in implantable pacemakers, time-released drug implants, and specialized types of heart surgery before he began his serious assault on angiogenesis.

The discoveries had their beginning in 1961 when he was a draftee in a Navy lab in Bethesda, Maryland. He noticed that tumors could not grow unless they first recruited their own capillaries to bring an increased blood supply. "Over time, he convinced himself that there had to be some way to block the growth of those blood vessels." He was right, but it took a long time before he knew any of the answers.

In brief opening comments about the book, former surgeon general C. Everett Koop, M.D. and Sc.D. observed how this new science evolved. "In the 1970s, laboratory scientists didn't believe any of it." " . . . [T]he critics' objections were hushed for good in 1989." "In the 1990s, the criticisms came chiefly from the clinical side, and the pharmaceutical companies didn't want anything to do with angiogenesis."

The story is a very heart-warming one. Dr. Folkman's father was a rabbi who asked each member of the family each night what she or he had learned that day. He also constantly implored his son to "Be a credit to your people." His father clearly thought that Dr. Folkman would also become a rabbi. Having announced his attention to become a physician, his father told him, "You can be a rabbi-like doctor." This injunction was one he took to heart, often seeking out his father's counsel on how to console the families of his patients.

His first taste of how close mortality is to all of us was when his first two children inherited cystic fibrosis. The younger of the two died, and the older one needed lots of special care to deal with infections. This probably made him a better doctor, by helping him see things more from the patients' points of view.

Space constraints keep me from discussing the book's description of how angiogenesis developed, but if you like stories about trail-blazing research, you will be amply rewarded. The key hurdles are described, along with the blind alleys that were followed. Anyone reading this will see how important it is to add new skills to the study of any new subject.

I was particularly interested in the way that press reports tended to harm the progress of angiogenesis, either by annoying other scientists, attracting hucksters, or delaying key deals with potential partners. We often think about freedom of speech being helpful, but here the case is a mixed one.

My only disappointment with the book is that it does not provide as much clinical data about the drugs under testing now as has been made public. That material would have made for fascinating reading. There are also natural substances that can cause a tumor to shrink, and clinical studies have been very successful in growing and shrinking tumors for some time.

I suspect that some member of your family will live a longer, healthier life due to future treatments soon to be available using angiogenesis. This book is a great way to learn more about the subject now, so you can encourage exploration of these experimental therapies where possibly appropriate. If anyone in your family now has cancer, this book is must reading for you!

Dr. Folkman summarized the book nicely as follows: "Success can often arrive dressed as failure." "If your idea succeeds everybody says you're persistent. If it doesn't succceed, you're stubborn."

May we all live longer and healthier lives due to the emerging medical treatments using angiogenesis . . . that were helped by Dr. Folkman's persistence!

5-0 out of 5 stars Persistence & vision overcomes dogma an ignorance.
Through long, arduous practice, Buddhists believe it is possible to remove the lens of self-interest and dogma to perceive "absolute reality," with "automatic compassion." After reading Robert Cooke's biography one believes that Dr. Judah Folkman has never looked at medicine any other way.

But the emperors of the scientific establishment have never dealt kindly with the boys who can't see their robes, as Cooke points out with several examples. (The Hungarian doctor who demonstrated that deaths from childbirth fever could be eliminated if doctors washed their hands was hounded by his colleages to suicide.) Dr. Folkman's heresy was the observation that tumors can't grow without stimulating healthy tissues to supply new blood vessels.

Fortunately for all of us, Dr. Folkman's vision has been matched by his persistence in pursuing it. In following Dr. Folkman's path from his boyhood in Ohio as the son of a rabbi, to Harvard where he gained his self-confidence, to the Navy research lab where his angiogenesis hypothesis first formed, and back to Boston as a pediatric surgeon-scientist, Cooke makes what might have been a difficult and technical story into an epic adventure.

In keeping with the fashion that writing a biography in chronological order is boring and passe, Cooke instead follows parallel thematic threads in Dr. Folkman's storied career. I personally found the resulting forward and backward jumps in time distracting, but not insurmountable.

It would have been enough if this were merely a story of scientific progress and the triumph of a new idea over entrenched dogma, but it is also the story of a man whose vision is matched by his devotion to his patients. It should be required reading for all prospective medical students.

Now angiogenesis-based therapies for cancer, atherosclerosis, blindness and arthritis are on the verge of exploding on the scene and Dr. Folkman's lab at Children's Hospital Boston is ground-zero. He and the generation of doctors and researchers that he has helped to train are revolutionizing huge swaths of medicine. When it happens it will seem like it was overnight, but those of us who have read Robert Cooke's book will know it was a lifetime in the making.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dr. Folkman is my hero -- a story better than SeaBiscuit!
This book by Robert Cooke is incredible! Mr. Cooke is able to explain to the average layperson the medical concepts of angeiogeneis conceived by the most under-valued person of our time: Dr. Judah Folkman. Dr. Folkman is to cancer what Salk was to Polio! Personally, Dr. Judah Folkman is my hero! A real hero, deserving of the Nobel Prize....and I don't speak lightly. I am a cancer patient that has recently learned that my cancer (thought was beat) has advanced to my lungs. The ONLY therapy for me is in an ANGIOGENESIS drug therapy program for a drug currently in study and labeled as "PI-88." I am just so confident this drug will work. I am the only patient with my type of cancer cell (adenoid cystic carninoma), so I am a little bit more of a lab rat for this program.

God Bless Dr. Folkman and h is incredible perserverance! His story should be a movie----a tale better than SeaBiscuit! He is my SeaBiscuit!


5-0 out of 5 stars Cure for cancer?
Chances are someone close to you has succumbed to the ravages of cancer, while you and the medical establishment could only sit by and watch the process reach its inevitable conclusion. The good news is, for nearly 40 years, Dr. Judah Folkman has been pursuing a cure for cancer -- or at least a way to fight tumors more effectively than chemotherapy or radiation -- that only until very recently has garnered serious attention. Dr. Folkman's theory is called angiogenesis, the process by which cancer cells emit an agent which triggers the growth of blood vessels to feed the growth of the cancer itself. For years Dr. Folkman's idea was basically scoffed at as the flailings of an amateur researcher, but Cooke shows how Dr. Folkman has perservered -- while maintaining his brilliant career as a physician -- and eventually, through a slow accumulation of experimental evidence, as well as the discovery of several antiangionesis agents, turned opinion around. Throughout this engaging and fascinating retelling of Folkman's journey, Cooke also provides an eye-opening account of the workings of academia, medical research, and their relationships to those Orwellian biotech companies you keep hearing about. The science is clear and vivid, the battle to defeat cancer inspiring, and the promise of victory -- thankfully, finally -- just around the corner.

2-0 out of 5 stars interesting story, but ......
I work in this field of research. I do like the story of the persistance and creativity of Judah Folkman. However, the author stumbles in describing some of the science and the intellectual contributions of others that led to some of the Folkman lab's discoveries. After reading the reviewers' praise for Mr. Cooke's "detailed research " on the book's back cover, I was diappointed by some obvious errors in the book. I believe that most of the innaccuracies are the unfortunate result of the author's failure to corroborate all of his facts. He may have been in a hurry to get the book out, but I wish that he had taken a little more time to get the science and other facts straight. ... Read more

6. And If I Perish : Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II
list price: $30.00
our price: $19.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375415149
Catlog: Book (2003-11-04)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 22129
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A galvanizing narrative of the wartime role played by U.S. Army nurses—from the invasion of North Africa to the bloody Italian campaign to the decisive battles in France and the Rhineland.

More than 59,000 nurses volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps alone: 217 lost their lives (16 by enemy action), and more than 1,600 were decorated for meritorious service and bravery under fire. But their stories have rarely been heard. Now, drawing on never-before-published eyewitness accounts—many heroic, some mundane and comic—Monahan and Neidel-Greenlee take us to the front lines, to the withering fire on the beaches of Anzio and Normandy, and to the field and evacuation hospitals, as well as bombed and burned hospital ships. We witness the nurses—and the doctors with whom they served—coping with the physical and psychological damage done to the soldiers in combat. We see them working—often with only meager supplies and overwhelmed by the sheer number of casualties—to save the lives and limbs of thousands of wounded troops. With them we experience the almost constant packing up and moving on to keep up with advancing troops, foxholes dug under camp beds, endless mud, and treacherous minefields. The vividness and immediacy of their recollections provide us with a powerfully visceral, deeply affecting sense of their experiences—terrifying and triumphant, exhausting and exhilarating.

A revelatory work that at last gives voice to the nurses who played such an essential role in World War II.
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Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Book About Incredible Women.
I have wanted to write this review since I finished "And If I Perish", but, quite frankly, I did not know how to start. As a lifelong reader, a woman of a "certain age" and an English teacher, I must have read thousands of books over the years. This one is, quite simply, the best book I have ever read. One of the jacket cover comments uses the word, masterpiece, that barely describes it.
The authors have done a magnificent job of weaving a seamless saga from the early days of WW II in North Africa, up through Italy and France and into Berlin. While I have read many books that chronicle the experiences of several people it was always difficult to keep them straight without a great deal of re-reading. Not so with these nurses, they are all recalled with no effort at all. While this is in no doubt due to Monahan & Neidel-Greenlee's formidable talents as authors, it is also because of these incredible nurses themselves. They were all of the things their daughters demonstrated about. They were brave, dedicated, self-reliant, tough, funny, compassionate, smart and inspiring. I am in awe of every one of them. They stand among the greats of the Greatest generation.
Monahan and Niedel-Greenlee have done us all a great service by telling this story. Thank you both.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's about time!!!!
For way too long has this story been untold. What a great book!!! What a great Christmas/Hanukkah present to give to family and friends. If I had my way, every American would read AND IF I PERISH, as soon as possible. It makes clear in a very readible way that Americans owe their freedom not just to the men who fought in WWII, but to the thousands of women, who served on the frontlines in order to help bring our fathers, brothers, sons, nephews, and friends home safely. One scene that was particularly touching to me was when a young US Army nurse in Anzio, Italy is ordered to prepare the body of a sister Army nurse for burial following her death after German artillery shells fell on the hospital tents on the beach head. As she washes and dresses the body, the young Lieutenant talks to her friend and tells her how sorry she is, that they have to meet again like this. This scene is even more poignant in that it takes place in a large tent used as the hospital morgue and the young Lieutenant is literally surrounded by death. Army nurses are not usually the heros of books, but after reading AND IF I PERISH, I think they should be.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Long Overdue Tribute to WWII Nurses
This is an extremely well written and interesting book, covering a part of America's World War II history which has been sadly neglected. Almost half of the 59,000 female nurses who volunteered for the US Armed Forces during WWII served overseas. During the course of the conflict approximately 1600 of these nurses were decorated for their actions, receiving Distinguished Service Medals, Silver and Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts, among other awards. More than 70 of these nurses were captured and 217 died of injuries and illness, 16 as the result of enemy action. The authors spent over a decade tracking down surviving nurses and their friends and families in order to compile this well documented, personal and most entertaining book. Several of the key figures are followed from their recruitment before and during the early stages of the war throughout the entire North African and European campaigns. The rich detail and often tragic first-person accounts of landing with the Allies, particularly in North Africa, and the hard learned lessons of American unpreparedness for war are told with stark straight forwardness by those who participated. The authors have professionally woven in the larger strategic backdrop, along with significant tactical explanations, in a manner that tells the reader how the nurses and their various hospitals fit into the bigger scheme of the war. The nurses come alive through their narration, putting a very human face on horrific living and working conditions as their units keep close to the combatants. The portion of the book dealing with the nurses' struggles on the Anzio beachhead brings into sharp focus their absolute dedication to their profession under the most extreme of circumstances. This book is exceptionally well researched, with numbers and types of casualties treated in the various theaters of war routinely given, clearly putting emphasis to the great magnitude of what was being accomplished. A number of excellent photographs throughout the text show quite graphically the dangers of front line nursing and hospitals, the faces of the primary narrators and the environments in which they labored. This book will be a wonderful companion to the other great histories of WWII and is highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Heroism Under Fire
I found this book to be a gripping account of an era of unselfish dedication to ones duty to both country and professional calling. Credibility is gained from strong first party stories that resulted from meticulous research by the authors. For me, perhaps the greatest inspiration was in the picture painted by the authors of the evolution of the role of U.S. Military women in the 20th century despite the many obstacles they endured and overcame both inside and outside the military and political institutions of the time.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Learned So Much More About WW II and the Nursing Professio
This book looks at the European theater of World War II from the prospective
of Army nurses and the hospitals that followed not far behind and sometimes
along with the fighting soldiers. I do not know exactly why but I learned so
much about World War II that I did not know before. Perhaps it is because I
identified with the hospital and medical environment. I spent my whole
career working in hospital maintenance and operations. I came to admire nurses
in the Veterans Administration Medical Centers for their knowledge and resorcefulness
and common sense. After reading this book, my admiration for the nursing profession
has increased even more. The book follows the lives of several nurses and also gives
a very enlightning overview of the whole war. The book is based on
completely footnoted research. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in history
or the medical and nursing profession. This book provides recognition for the vital
and very dangerous part nurses contributed to our winning World War II. ... Read more

7. The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic
by Gay Salisbury, Laney Salisbury
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393019624
Catlog: Book (2003-06)
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 11390
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Alaska, 1925: the diptheria serum is 674 miles away. Without it, the people of Nome will not survive.

Nome, Alaska, sits on the edge of the Bering Sea two degrees below the Arctic Circle, and there are few more forbidding places on earth, especially in winter. Dr. Curtis Welch knew the signs of diphtheria, knew that his patients—many of them children—would die without a shipment of fresh serum.

The port was icebound and the nearest railhead was almost 700 miles away across mountains, rivers, and the treacherous ice of Norton Sound. A blizzard was brewing, and airplanes, in 1925, could not fly in such conditions. Only the dogs could do it. A relay was set up, and the drivers, many of them Native Alaskans, set off into the night at 60š below zero, often trusting their lead dogs to find the trail under feet of driven snow. The legendary heroism and endurance of the men and dogs in the Serum Run need no enhancement. Here, for the first time, their story is told in full. 34 b/w illustrations. ... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars A gripping yarn
This book is not only a gripping tale of heroic men and dogs working against long odds and unimaginable hardships to save Nome from an epidemic, it is a fascinating account of dogsledding, gold rushes, Alaskan history, and harsh weather. Some of the most interesting passages describe the weird acoustical effects and other strange and unfamiliar phenomena caused by extreme cold. Other reviewers have criticized these digressions for interrupting the narrative, but I found that they added depth and context. Hey, nobody seems to quibble about "Moby Dick" alternating chapters between story and natural history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great story, well told
For once the blurb on the back cover is accurate, ",,,the Salisbury's writing is as straightforward and honest as the men they are describing. This is a moving story, superbly researched and deftly told."

In the small town of Nome, in the furthest northwest corner of the coast of Alaska, a diptheria epidemic occurs in the winter of 1925. The town doctor knows he needs serum to save lives but he has only a very small supply. There are no roads or railways to Nome. The port is unreachable because of ice and the airplanes of the time could not take off because of the extreme cold. The only solution is to run the serum in by dogsled, across Alaska in temperatures of around minus 60 degrees.

This is a saga of the heroism of both men and dogs. Some of the dogs died as a result of giving more than they had to the race across the ice. Men had their hands frozen to the sled. But they made it and saved many lives. Both men and dogs displayed valour and tenacity in conditions beyond anything we can imagine.

In telling this deeply moving story the writers take the opportunity to show us the basic elements of life in the outposts of Alaska - the effects of the cold, the wind, the winter darkness, the isolation. The readers don't learn this, they FEEL it. The pace of the story builds from the discovery of gold at Nome in 1898 to the dramatic, heroic dash with the serum in 1925.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about the outdoors and the courage of men and dogs in overcoming impossible odds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Majorly cool book, in more ways than one!
I adore history. I love medicine. When you combine the two of those topics and do it well, then you deserve accolades for doing so. Salisbury and Salisbury did a phenomenal job with this (which I take is their first book together). I had known about the outbreak of the 1918 influenza that killed so many Native Americans (including the indigenous tribes of Alaska). I did not know about this particular outbreak of diptheria in Nome, which was, and still is basically out in the boondocks.

For those who don't know or don't remember, diptheria is the D part of the DPT vaccine given to all children, several time prior to school years. Diptheria and whooping cough are two of the most awful childhood diseases (though both can be gotten by adults). Diptheria is not just a sore throat. The combination of the toxins of diptheria and the immune system of the child's body creates a membrane that lies across the back of the throat effectively choking/suffocating the child. Prior to the vaccine, there was an anti-toxin created (which again I didn't know) but if the child had progressed this far with the membrane then death was the ultimate outcome. In those days, tracheotomies were not automatically done; the concept had not been introduced yet. And even if that were available, the lack of cleanliness would have still put the patients at risk with that type of medical interference. Cutting the membrane did not help, as apparently it could grow back. Really nasty stuff...and those parents who are into 'natural' do not realize that 'natural' was oftentimes a killer.

This book is not just a dry gathering of newspaper articles. The authors talked to those involved, whether the children saved, or even some of the remaining 'mushers' (or their close families and friends) concerning this very good example of quiet heroism. Not only is the writing terrific, but there are some great old photographs, maps (which I needed to follow), and even the footnotes were interesting. The authors wove stories into the story, because they had to explain to the readers the background behind the use of dogs to cross such forbidding frozen country.

Sometimes we need books like this to realize just how lucky we are to have the vaccines that are so automatically given to our children. This is a great story, a great epidemiological case study, a great tribute to the doctor and mushers who rushed to save the lives of so many.

Karen Sadler,
Science Education,

University of Pittsburgh

5-0 out of 5 stars Traditionalist trump technology again
The Salisburys have combined an analytical review of the introduction of technology into a remote and nearly inhospitable region with a tale of exceptional courage and committment by a small group of ordinary men.

In 1925 a diptheria epidemic threatened the remote town of Nome, Alaska. Fortunately most of us have no idea of the terrible suffering and deaths from strangulation that await those, mostly children and natives, who contract such a disease. However, in 1925, diptheria was still known and epidemics were well known, the most recent one having been the post WWI Spanish Influenza, which had very high mortality rates in certain populations.

In 1925 Alaska, still a territory largely administered by Washington bureaucrats very unfamiliar with local issues, the argument had two vociferous sides. The traditionalists favored the use of the well-tested dog sled to transport fragile serum to Nome. Others led by businessmen and newspaperman, some with a commerical interest, demanded that an airplane serum drop be undertaken. In some ways this time was much like our own, with an unbelievable reliance on technology that has not really been proven under adverse conditions.

Ultimately the governor weighed the arguments and went with the well-proven dog sled, which was successful in delivering the serum, albeit after many deaths had occurred. The flying proponents lacked no courage or perseverence, but ulitmately were unsuccessful in a test flight.

Only 22 years after the Wright flyer lifted off at Kitty Hawk, airplane technology was not ready for the demands of this transport. The military had only very recently ever attempted any flying this far north, and it was only done under very controlled conditions and certainly not in the January blizzard that then prevailed.

The first part of the book is perhaps the most interesting part, where the Salisburys take us through a history of the development of Alaska and give us a sense of the remoteness and lack of access. Ports were frozen all winter. Roads, railroads, and telephone lines did not extend into the interior. Only the frontier spirit, willingness to come to another's aid, and survival skills acquired through generations of hard lessons allowed anyone to live in the territory.

5-0 out of 5 stars worthy of sebastian junger's high praise
When Gay and Laney Salisbury (first cousins) were little, they became entranced with the larger-than-life bronze statue of Balto the sled dog in Central Park, near the Children's Zoo - and apparently they're not the only fans, for the caretaker of the Central Park Conservancy estimates that Balto's statue has lost a quarter inch of thickness at the hands of admirers. Armed with new primary and secondary documents, the authors offer an updated version of Balto and his brethren who, along with 20 or so mushers, carried critical vaccines from Nenana, just south-west of Fairbanks, to Nome, where diphtheria had broken out. The book offers up many tales of heroism that took place over the 5 days from Nenana to Nome, and the uncanny, mind-meld relationship between mushers like Leonhard Seppala and their lead dogs is inspiring and incredible.

The Salisburys offer a well-documented and sparely-told tale, unencumbered with excessive sentimentality or nostalgia for the time of the Alaskan sled dogs. The story takes a while to get off the ground, as the Salisburys lay out the gold rush background of Nome, but it rapidly picks up once Dr. Curtis Welch acknowledges the reality of the disease he's fighting. Great story of dogs and men - and the cold challenge of Alaska. highly recommended. ... Read more

8. Justice at Nuremberg : Leo Alexander and the Nazi Doctors' Trial (St. Antony's Series)
by Ulf Schmidt
list price: $90.00
our price: $90.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 033392147X
Catlog: Book (2004-09-18)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Sales Rank: 684333
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Book Description

Justice at Nuremberg traces the history of the Nuremberg Doctors' Trial held in 1946-47, as seen through the eyes of the Austrian bliogémigrbliogé psychiatrist Leo Alexander. His investigations helped the United States to prosecute twenty German doctors and three administrators for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The legacy of Nuremberg was profound. In the Nuremberg code--a landmark in the history of modern medical ethics--the judges laid down, for the first time, international guidelines for permissible experiments on humans. One of those who helped to formulate the code was Alexander. Justice at Nuremberg provides a detailed insight into the origins of human rights in medical science and into the changing role of international law, ethics and politics.
... Read more

9. Dao of Chinese Medicine: Understanding an Ancient Healing Art
by Donald Edward Kendall
list price: $49.95
our price: $49.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195921046
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 255159
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Dao of Chinese Medicine is the first Western text to shed light on the reality of the ancient healing arts of China, revealing that Chinese medical theories are based on important physiological findings.This is in contrast to the Western interpretation, popularized since the 1940s and 50s that Chinese medicine and acupuncture involve undefined energy and blood circulating through imaginary meridians.Unfortunately, the energy-meridian idea condemned Chinese medicine to be viewed in terms of metaphysical beliefs, limiting its acceptance into mainstream health care.It also led to a growing frustration to reinvent acupuncture in Western terms before understanding the true way (dao) of Chinese medicine.Dao of Chinese Medicine sets the record straight, explaining how ancient Chinese physicians eveloped a physiologically based medicine with the theories supported by human dissection studies and how Chinese medical theories are consistent with 21st century explanations about how acupuncture works. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars WOW- The Best English CM Book in At Least a Decade
I'm an acupuncturist, AND an author who puts Chinese medicine (CM) into layman's terms (see One of the most difficult things to explain is "What is qi?" and it's not fun responding to objections that Chinese medicine is unscientific or even occultic.

Kendall's book is an academic and scientific answer to these problems, a more accurate revision of our Western understanding of Chinese medicine, and a resource for all future western improvements on this ancient system.

As Philippe Sionneau says, and Kendall echoes, we must know Chinese medicine - what it really was in the past - before we can innovate intelligently.

Both Kendall and Paul Unschuld are doing a great service to English-speaking acupuncturists by using their scholarly skills to uncover more truths about Chinese medicine, and to question some of the popular conceptions of CM in the West. Of course, I don't take everything they say as gospel - I wonder about Unschuld because it's said he doesn't really like Chinese medicine, and we know he doesn't practice it. Yet, Unschuld's being an outsider can be a good thing, because criticism often leads to "iron sharpening iron," an improvement in our knowledge and understanding, or at least in our ability to cogently argue one side of an issue. Kendall, on the other hand, has practiced and taught Chinese medicine for decades.

I think some people in my profession will hate this book. Many of the "traditional" acupuncturists in America, as in France, are hopelessly enamored with the false idea of energy circulating in meridians, and some have even made this an integral part of their personal spirituality. They may not listen to Kendall's findings.

Some of my peers do not embrace "medical" acupuncture, an approach that Kendall claims and I agree is common sense: that we should learn Chinese medicine, then understand its parallels in Western medicine, and even subject CM theories to scientific validation.

Kendall explains what damage our misconceptions about CM have done to the system itself, and how it has slowed the Western medical community's ability to take it seriously and examine its insights.

I haven't read the whole book yet... indeed, some of it must be studied, and may be beyond those without a good grounding in neuroscience and immunology, but I think learning them in this context is well worth the effort. I'm happy to have a lot of the information about the neuro and immunomechanisms of acupuncture all in one place - I've seen some of this in various essays or studies, but this presentation includes drawings. And that is one strength of the book- most people are visual learners, yet so many books use only words. Kendall includes a plethora of charts and drawings.

This may not make it easier to explain acupuncture, but it will make our explanations a lot more credible. My patients always respond better to my explanation of acupuncture, which is based on neuroscience and PETScan findings, than they do to theories of energy circulation, and those I've told about Kendall's tying meridians/vessels in with blood vessels and qi with nutrients (ying) and oxygen immediately said, "That makes more sense."

Thank you Deke!

As a Western-trained biochemist and a critical commentator of Chinese Medicine, I read Donald Kendall's book with keen interest. For more than two decades since the rise of popularity of acupuncture in the West, Chinese Medicine has been regarded as any other folklore medicine derived mainly from empirical experience with little scientific basis, despite the fact that it has been practiced for over two thousand years and has long been the only mainstream healthcare system in China until recent century. Even today, this healing art is still practiced as a complementary medicine in China and in overseas Chinese communities.

In recent years, the quest for herbal-based alternative medicine in the West has made Chinese Medicine increasingly appealing not only to the ordinary populace, but also to western medical professionals. This ancient healing art is said to have embraced the environmental, nutritional as well as emotional influence in its etiology and be capable of providing individualized therapies which could only be realized by the future pharmacogenomic approach.

However, to most westerners Chinese Medicine is as mysterious as the Chinese Ancient Civilization it belongs. The reasons could well be that the classical cannons of this healing art are all written in very concise and hard to understand ancient Chinese, and its underlying therapeutic principles are shrouded in the ancient Chinese worldviews of Five Phases and Yin-Yang. Furthermore, most attempts in the past to interpret the principles of Chinese medicine either do not properly recognize the ultimate consistency of its functional organ concepts with modern physiology, nor all together misunderstand its essential theories of disease etiology and balance of Yin & Yang due to inaccurate translation of the some of the critical concepts. All these have led to the misperception that Chinese medicine is a totally outdated traditional therapeutic system passed down merely by generations of empirical healing experience, with little scientific basis for verification and hard to reconcile with nowadays mainstream western medicine.

It is therefore an intellectual delight to find in Dr Kendall's new book "Dao of Chinese Medicine" a fresh interpretation of this oriental healing art in terms of modern physiology. The content of this book is logically laid-out in fifteen chapters starting from the quest for the Dao, i.e., the way, and the ancient beginning of this healing art, to the interpretation of many important concepts and principles of Chinese medicine, and finally to the different approaches in diagnosis and treatment which were adopted by the Chinese physicians over the centuries and are still practiced today.

From the start, what makes this book different from most existing English texts on Chinese medicine is that Kendall derived his source material by taking on new and more accurate translations of Huangdi Nei Jing, the most reverend cannon of Chinese medicine, and successfully demystifies the misleading idea that Chinese medicine is on based energy circulation through invisible meridians. As the readers will discover, ancient Chinese medicine is not just based on an ancient philosophy of Five Phases and Yin-Yang, but is firmly rooted in empirical physiological studies, which includes, against common customs of the time, post-mortem dissection.

... I consider Dr. Kendall's book a major achievement in introducing Chinese medicine to the West in ways even Dr. Joseph Needham could not achieve in his monumental work of "Chinese Science and Technology". With over 200 citations to more than 80 treatises of the Nei Jing, this book reveals the rational basis of this ancient healing art with modern insight which will be instrumental for future application, research and acceptance of Chinese medicine in the West. The Dao is a must read for students, practitioners of Chinese medicine as well as other health specialists and individuals who would appreciate the fascinating story of the great indigenous medicine of China.

By: Kenneth J.T. Li, Ph.D.,D.Sp.
Former Assistant Director, R&D, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong University

5-0 out of 5 stars Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up!
Wow! What a tour de force...scholarship, readability and impact! Someone finally makes acupuncture and Chinese Medicine REAL! If this were widely read, the medical profession would be more likely to give Chinese medicine the respect it deserves and the public would be even more enthusiastic about it. The western medical profession has largely patronized Chinese Medicine. The Dao of Chinese Medicine makes a strong case that this dismissal of Chinese medicine is misguided, and based upon flawed interpretations. Western writers early on misunderstood the historical origins of Chinese medicine and popularised the idea of an unknown "energy" coursing through imaginary "meridians". Dr. Donald Kendall in the Dao of Chinese Medicine sets the record straight in this refreshing book.

Dr. Kendall has long been respected in the international acupuncture community for his lucid explanation of the physiological mechanisms of acupuncture and for his attempts to bring the educational standards of the western medical model to the profession. Kendall is a scholar who reads the ancient texts in the original Chinese, and a highly successful Chinese Medicine practitioner and teacher. In the Dao of Chinese Medicine, he extends his reach to the full scope of Chinese medical theory and practice. Kendall has the gift the late Isaac Asimov had of making the complex and esoteric understandable. Primarily a textbook for western and Chinese medical students and doctors, it will also find an audience with healthcare decision makers and the public. Those who are inspired by a vision of a healthcare system integrating the best of conventional and traditional medical systems, will find their spirits soaring after reading Kendall's book. Medical doctors, academic and clinical researchers and medical practitioners of every stripe will feel far more confident about the rationale and validity of Chinese Medicine.

This is an academic book but it is also a great story. Kendall's documentation is meticulous and his style is engaging. The Dao of Chinese Medicine reveals an ancient medical system that stands up well to scientific scrutiny. Chinese medicine comes off as the equal of western medicine in many respects, and as its superior in other respects, particularly in its emphasis on prevention through attention to building immune function. Kendall traces the development of Chinese medicine from its roots in physiological studies including post-mortem dissections. This lead to a number of pioneering medical "firsts" including detailed descriptions of the cardiovascular system, the original discovery of blood circulation, the earliest descriptions of the immune system, information about the spinal cord, sensory and motor nerves, and the organization of the musculoskeletal system.

William Harvey's explanation of blood circulation in 1628 is considered the greatest single event in Western medicine. His work led to an era of scientific exploration in medicine and to the rejection of the mistaken ideas of Greek and medieval medicine embodied by Hippocrates and Galen. The fact that Chinese physicians made this discovery two millennia before Harvey does not diminish Harvey's extraordinary breakthrough, but it does put it in historical context.

The Dao of Chinese Medicine repudiates the notion that Chinese medicine is inscrutable, nonsensical or illogical. Kendall accurately translates the original source material and crosschecks it against contemporary scientific research, and so unveils the genius of the ancient Chinese physicians.

HMO administrators, clinical directors, and medical doctors now have the ability to appreciate the expanded range of valid options available for patient care. Other implications are the enhancement of patient choice and reduced healthcare costs, as safe, non-invasive, drugless alternative modalities of Chinese medicine can be justifiably and responsibly selected where they are appropriate. Students of Chinese medicine have a way to explain what they do in terms accepted by the consensus reality and to achieve more consistent and repeatable results through a deeper understanding of how the body and its internal and external aspects interact. The health-conscious public now has available a definitive source for gaining better understanding a medical system which may significantly improve the quality of their lives.

This groundbreaking book serves the international community well and enhances the concept of an integrative "world medicine". Five stars and two thumbs up!

Steve Paine, OMD
Listed Chinese Medicine Practitioner (Hong Kong)
Licensed Acupuncturist (Hawaii) ... Read more

10. The History Of Neuroscience In Autobiography (Autobiographies)
by Larry R. Squire
list price: $89.95
our price: $89.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0126602468
Catlog: Book (2003-10-17)
Publisher: Academic Press
Sales Rank: 962128
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Book Description

This book is the fourth volume of autobiographical essays by distinguished senior neuroscientists. This volume includes autobiographies by 14 notable scientists, who also discuss major events that shaped their discoveries and their influences, as well as people that inspired them and help shape their careers as neuroscientists. This collection of fascinating essays should inform and inspire students and working scientists alike. The general reader may also find the book absorbing, as they are essentially human stories about commitment and the pursuit of knowledge. ... Read more

11. Plagues and Peoples
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385121229
Catlog: Book (1998-02)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 8951
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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No small themes for historian William McNeill: he is a writer of big, sweeping books, from The Rise of the West to The History of the World. Plagues and Peoples considers the influence of infectious diseases on the course of history, and McNeill pays special attention to the Black Death of the 13th and 14th centuries, which killed millions across Europe and Asia. (At one point, writes McNeill, 10,000 people in Constantinople alone were dying each day from the plague.) With the new crop of plagues and epidemics in our own time, McNeill's quiet assertion that "in any effort to understand what lies ahead the role of infectious disease cannot properly be left out of consideration" takes on new significance. ... Read more

Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK
I read this book for a history class and loved it. The thesis was interesting, the ideas well-supported, and the examples fascinating. McNeill writes clearly, includes the perfect amount of detail and factual support, and avoids esotericism. His claims, like components of a mathematic or scientific theory, complement one another in a convincing and cohesive fashion such that by the end of the book, one cannot help but be at least partially convinced of the important relationship between paracitism and human civilization throughout history. Plagues and Peoples is truly legitimate, fascinating and innovative. For those who have any interest in history, anthropology, sociology, biology, or a plethora of other fields, as well as for any who merely appreciate interesting analytical thought and are looking for a good read, this book is really one you won't want to miss.

5-0 out of 5 stars pretty good of disease in society
Diseases has been a big factor in human development. Disease has helped dictate where people have been able to live and create civilizations, helped in the conquest of countries and created a whole series of social ills in congested urban areas. McNeill takes a look at the effects of disease through human society.

The first chapter Man The Hunter focuses on disease in early human history. The following chapter Breakthrough to History focuses on the development of agriculture and permanent human settlements. The next chapter, Confluence of Civilized Disease Pools focuses on the role disease had on early civilizations in places such as China and India. The next chapter is Impact of the Mogul Empire and how this early large empire had an effect on disease. The next chapter is Transoceanic Exchanges focusing on the spearding of disease between the Eastern and Western Hempshires and its implications. The last chapter is Ecological Impact of Medical Science Focusing on how humans have been able to control diseas through means such as vacinations.

Good book to get a better understanding of history.

4-0 out of 5 stars A very detailed explanation of disease's role in history
Every high school history student knows that the Black Death swept through Europe, and that diseases like smallbox, measles and so on were decisive in allowing the colonization of the Americas. But these two statements while universally accepted, are generally left at that and the causes go unexplored.

This book is a very concise history of plagues and what built up to these two grim realities. McNeill goes much beyond these basics and provides in intricate details the events that allowed that to happen. What allowed these disease pools to eventually come into being? This book provides the details to the answer to that question from the early days of civilization in Mesopotamia to the effect that plague had on the periphery of the Roman and Chinese empires to the effect that the Mongols had in fully unifying this disease pool, and once a reality, the devasating effect that they had on the world.

In short, if you want to understand in fine detail the causes and events that built up the "eastern hemisphere disease pool", read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best
This is one of a very tiny number of books which I have bought in bulk and distributed to friends and colleagues. Although the prose style can be unnecessarily turgid and academic and will win no prizes, the ideas are so stimulating intellectually that one gradually ceases to notice the style. McNeill's central thesis, both original and plausible, allows one to review the entire history of civilization in a new light and to make testable and almost always correct predictions. Few books have the ability to so change one's view of history. I first read this book many years ago and it has held up well. Read and ponder. It may change your world view.

5-0 out of 5 stars Will change the way you look at the world
This is one of those handful of books that will change the way you look at our world. History will never seem quite the same when you finish.
Several earlier reviewers have done a great job of summarizing and analyzing the book. It is unfortunate that this book was given as a high school assignment, and then the students were asked to review it on Amazon. Is it any wonder they gave it 2 or 3 stars, and said it was difficult to understand? Most 15-year-olds do not have the background to fully appreciate this type of work, and unfortunately their reviews skew the book's rating. ... Read more

12. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It
by Gina Bari Kolata, Gina Kolata
list price: $25.00
our price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374157065
Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Sales Rank: 174712
Average Customer Review: 3.26 out of 5 stars
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Feeling tired, achy, and congested?You'll hope not after reading science writer Gina Kolata's engrossing Flu, a fascinating look at the 1918 epidemic that wiped out around 40 million people in less than a year and afflicted more than one of every four Americans.This tragedy, just on the heels of World War I and far more deadly, so traumatized the survivors that few would talk about it afterward.Kolata reports on the scientific investigation of this bizarre outbreak, in particular the attempts to sequence the virus' DNA from tissue samples of victims.She also looks at the social and personal effects of the disease, from improved public health awareness to the loss of productivity. (The disease affected 20- to 40-year-olds disproportionately.)

How could this disease, now almost trivial to healthy young people, have become so virulent?The answer is complex, invoking epidemiology, immunology, and even psychology, but Kolata cuts a swath through medical papers and statistical reports to tell a story of an out-of-control virus exploiting an exhausted world on the brink of transition into modern society.Through letters, interviews, and news reports, she pieces together a cautionary tale that captures the horror of a devastating illness.Research marches onward, but we're still at the mercy of something as simple as the flu. --Rob Lightner ... Read more

Reviews (102)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Amazing and True Story of Scientists and Amateurs
Gina Kolata's Flu is subtitled the Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It. It is much more the story of the latter rather than the former. An important book on the influenza pandemic and its historical impact is waiting to be written. This book, though, still has its value both as a fun read of scientific discovery and some very inept amateur bungling, as well as an interesting look at the politics behind science. The author is also very good at capturing the personalities behind the events. No important conclusions are drawn and no important theories of history are defended but this book is a wonderful examination of a process in science. A delightful read.

2-0 out of 5 stars mediocre extended newspaper article, now dated
This is not a book about 1918. This is an over-hyped and overlong newspaper story about digging up bodies and trying to recover the 1918 virus from them. It's now (June 2004) much dated, which is what happens to newspaper stories.
If you want to read an actual book about the epidemic-- and about much more, including contemporary science, the virus, the interplay between politics and the disease-- then read The Great Influenza by Barry. Now THAT is worth picking up. I gave that 5 stars, and if I could give it more I would.

4-0 out of 5 stars about right for the armchair crowd
If you're looking for a highly detailed and relatively technical discussion you might find this book a little light. However, if you, like me, have just the general exposure to the subject of epidemics, their causes and consequences, you are likely to have a good read here.

A couple times Ms. Kolata's prose and approach get a little dramatic but it doesn't get in her way as far as telling the story and a little honest feeling for the subject is hardly a bad thing.

Comparisons to 'The Hot Zone' are inevitable but not quite accurate. 'The Hot Zone' deals with diseases still very much a threat and almost supernaturally spooky in their virulence and mystery. 'Flu' is more a forensic look at a disease that is familiar and whose flirtation with serious mortality has, so far, been a one-time thing.

Say 'Ebola' to someone and they react: where is it? how bad is it? is this the time it will get loose? Say 'flu' and most people shrug. We've all been there, done that. Influenza is a familiar, if unwelcome, guest every year. Reading Ms. Kolata's book won't exactly have you hiding under your bed come next flu season, but you might not be quite so inclined to cavalierly skip the innoculation campaign either.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great historical overview, rather weak storytelling
First, whoever designed the cover and spine of this book should be fired. While sitting on your bookshelf the neon green spine jumps out and the lettering makes it look like some cheesy sci-fi tripe. Which is unfortunate, because it's a very informative book and full of excellent research. It's odd that the great flu epidemic got relegated to an historical footnote, because it's scale was devastating and frightening. It's also likely that sometime in the future a similar outbreak will jump from animal to man in south China or somewhere similar. And the results today would dwarf the original flu epidemic and make SARS seem like a mild fever. This book makes for fascinating reading on these counts and it's very interesting to follow how the scientists went back to uncover the flu's origins.
Like many psuedo-historical books of this nature, however, the author is much less skilled as a writer than she is as a researcher. She tries too hard to inject the book with drama when the subject matter itself is sufficiently dramatic. Thus reading it becomes irritating at times because the prose and bad melodrama gets to you, but you nonetheless don't want to stop reading and not get all of the information.

5-0 out of 5 stars Frightening but an excellent read
Highly readable though this book I'm sure was not written to make you an expert on the subject. If you know nothing about the Flu epidemic of 1918 nor other quasi flu epidemics and near misses that have occured since, this book will effectively acquaint you with all of them. I would say that Ms Kolata's style is somewhat journalistic breezy and and her presentation of the material to some no-nonsense type readers might be off putting. But to my mind she very carefully builds her story so that by the conclusion we have surveyed many of the players, including the various viruses, and then she let's us all down softly as no real satisfying conclusion seems available at this time. I particularly liked the details of the virus hunters and scientists and felt that these characterizations were absolutely necessary to the premise of the book. In fact I was quite inspired by their stories. ... Read more

13. Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body
by Armand Marie Leroi
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
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Asin: 0670031100
Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
Publisher: Viking Books
Sales Rank: 10841
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Who are the mutants? We are all mutants. But some of us are more mutant than others."

Variety, even deformity, may seem like an unlikely route by which to approach normality, even perfection. Yet much of what we know about the mechanisms of human development, growth, and aging comes from the study of people who are afflicted with congenital diseases, most of which have genetic causes. Congenital abnormalities reveal not only errors within the womb, but also our evolutionary history.

In Mutants, Armand Marie Leroi gives a brilliant narrative account of our genetic grammar and the people whose bodies have revealed it, balancing both the science and the stories behind some of history's most captivating figures-including a French convent girl who found herself changing sex upon puberty; children who, echoing Homer's Cyclops, are born with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads; a village of long-lived Croatian dwarves; a hairy family who was kept at the Burmese royal court for four generations (and from whom Darwin took one of his keenest insights into heredity); and the ostrich-footed Wadoma of the Zambezi River Valley.

Stepping effortlessly from myth to molecular biology, this elegant, humane, and illuminating book is about us all.
... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Are Redheads Mutants?
Despite being the repository of many of my family's variant genes, I can't complain - I am a fully functional human being. That said, the fact that I am the first known case of inherited intermittent vertical nystagmus [at least that's what the doctors said at the time of my birth] has given me an above average interest in the genetics of human beings. Armand Marie Leroi's Mutants is an excellent introduction to genetic variety in human beings. Mutants could have been turned into a freak show by a lesser writer or one with the desire to titillate, but Leroi handles the subject directly and with the right level of sensitivity. In the introduction, Leroi demystifies the word mutant and concludes the chapter by saying

We are all mutants. But some of us are more mutant than others.

I especially enjoyed the fact that I was finally able to understand the genetics of my aunt's 6th toe and the fact that Leroi uses redheads to explore the boundary between mutation and polymorphism [I'm okay with the fact that being a redhead makes me a mutant].

Despite the way Leroi handles the material, this is not a book for the squeamish. The black and white illustrations may be disturbing to some readers. I think the perfect reader for this book would be a person with the background from a 9th grade biology class and an interest in learning more about human genetics. People with an interest in history and the process of doing science should also find much of interest in Mutants.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Imperfections Show Us Who We Are
You are a mutant, and you have been since before you were born. You probably have three hundred mutations in your genes that impair your health in some way. Of course, that leaves a huge number of genes to correct any problems, and most of us don't look as if we stepped out of the X-Men comic books. "We are all mutants. But some of us are more mutant than others," says the evolutionary biologist Armand Marie Leroi in _Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body_ (Viking). Leroi takes a review of human mutations based on the wonderful principle that we get to understand how nature normally works by carefully examining abnormalities; when things go wrong, we know that there must be some important process going right most of the time. So there is extensive evaluation here of strange-looking humans, often with nightmarish defects. Amply illustrated, the book has engravings from centuries past to show that humans have always had a curiosity about such beings. Leroi's intellectual interest is far from morbid, however, and his lessons drawn from the monsters here are humane and increase our admiration for how often things go right, and how often those who were dealt a bad genetic hand can still play it well.

For example, Carl Herman Unthan was a violin virtuoso by age twenty, although he had no arms. Of course, not all such mutants are so successful. Harry Eastlack had a defect that told his body to make bone whenever it made any repair, so that bruises and tears would turn into bone, not healed flesh. The stillborn babies here are strange indeed. One has a second developed mouth in its forehead. Another child was born with over twenty half-developed fetuses in his brain. The book, however, is far from a chamber of horrors. Even the most bizarre of the mutants do show us things about the process of becoming and being a human creature. Conjoined twins, for instance, are closely examined here in many ways for many lessons, like how our developing bodies can know left from right. The deformities in limbs show the importance of embryonic limb-buds, a signaling protein called "sonic hedgehog," and "hox" genes that are the same ones that help keep our vertebral segments orderly. The same hox genes work to make the segments in worms. Leroi writes of the "breathtaking similarity" living creatures have in such arrangements, as evolution has built variations on the same basic plan. "We are, in many ways, merely worms writ large."

There are pygmies and dwarfs here, and giants, and men / women of intermediate sex, albinos, piebalds, cyclopes, and families covered all over in hair. There is natural curiosity about such "monsters," but Leroi shows there needs to be more. They are all products of molecules gone wrong, molecules we can now detect and understand, to better appreciate how molecules go right in the unimaginably complicated dance that creates organisms. There is a fascinating chapter near the end to show that perhaps ageing and death are caused by specific mutations (we are mutants all, remember). The final chapter is about the importance of human diversity, and the importance of beauty as a general evolutionary force (as Darwin knew it to be). A beautiful face has appeal at least in part because imperfections, the myriad types of imperfections as illustrated here, are not apparent, indicating health and fitness. With a declaration for biological beauty, this is a well-informed, life-affirming book by a scientist who has used molecular errors to ponder deeply the human condition.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thorough, but not quite thorough enough.
I have an above-basic understanding of biology and, more specifically, genetics, but I felt the book was somewhat lacking in more scientific illustration. In talking about something like apical ridges and zones of polarizing activity, it would be helpful to have accompanying illustrations. Otherwise it's a bit difficult to try to visualize molecular levels of detail unless you have a very keen understanding of the subject already.

However, it's a very good book, humanely and thoroughly written, which doesn't treat its subject matter salaciously. I'll look forward to future works by the author.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mutants
This witty and humane book has managed to avoid the pitfalls so commonly associated with work in this area. Dr Armand Marie Leroi does not seem to have an axe to grind. The reader is spared political lectures on genetic diversity. This is a book that can be read by those on either side of the genetics debate without being dismissed as overly prejudicial. Dr Leroi's particular achievement is that he has managed this feat without loss of seriousness or respect for his subject. The book revolves around the case histories of individuals with genetic abnormalities. Dr Leroi does not pretend that these individual's lives were enhanced by their deformities, rather he uses their lives as an illustration of genetics in action, warts and all, and usually much more than warts. While one may marvel at the courage of some of those people depicted, one is nevertheless left with a keen sense of sadness for them and for the uncomprehending world in which they lived. Theirs were unusual lives. They were unusual in having been both hidden and recorded, repellent and absorbing, freakish and yet in many ways profoundly ordinary. Dr Leroi handles these dichotomies dispassionately, respectfully and above all, expertly. This is a warm, endearing book on a topic which might easily have been neither.

5-0 out of 5 stars Weird, witty and wise
Armand Marie Leroi's MUTANTS is a delightful mixture of historical anecdote, philosophy, artistic allusions and serious science, all served up with a first-person narrative voice that is both sympathetic and learned. Despite the bizarre and often gruesome subject matter used to illustrate scientific principles governing the formation of the human body, we are guided through the spectrum of human abnormality with a respectful hand. Although at times Leroi is amusing, he never ridicules the mutant humans he discusses - if anything, it is the scientists, anthropologists and historians who have misunderstood or abused their odd subjects that receive the well-timed onslaught of his wit. And yet even some of these jibes are sympathetic: the wise men of old were fumbling around in the dark and did not have the benefit of our knowledge or modern morals, so Leroi is gracious enough at times to excuse them, when other authors might be stern and judgmental. Even the horrific spectre of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele is portrayed in a multi-faceted light; Leroi does not condone or excuse his acts, but he does attempt to understand his motivations. It is a delicate balancing act that the author pulls off beautifully in most cases.

If you want to learn something about the genetics of human development, the explanations are clear and logical, with enough analogies and examples to help you along. The reference section is vast, so you know where to turn for more gory (so to speak) details. If, however, you'd rather just sit back and enjoy the historical anecdotes, the structure of the book makes it easy for you to skim through the scientific stuff - which does not ramble on too long - and the section headings help you pick and choose your area of interest.

Although the information about deformities is certainly engaging, I found myself most captivated by the final chapter on race and beauty (don't be fooled into skipping it because it's called an 'epilogue' in the table of contents). Leroi makes a good case for the importance of studying the genetics of race, a topic that is not only politically incorrect, but potentially explosive. Why, he asks, should scientists know in excruciating detail the genetic underpinnings of snail shell colour variation yet have absolutely no clue why the Chinese have curved eyelids or the Eskimos, high cheekbones? In answer to the usual rebuttal, that studying race leads to discrimination, Leroi argues, quite successfully, that it is in fact our residual ignorance that gives would-be racists a welcome loophole. And as for his thoughts on beauty, the ideas are fascinating and should be of interest to us all. It's worth reading the book for the last paragraph alone. ... Read more

14. Deadly Dust
by David Rosner, Gerald Markowitz
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 069103771X
Catlog: Book (1994-07-25)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 281722
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

During the Depression, silicosis, an industrial lung disease, emerged as a national social crisis. Experts estimated that hundreds of thousands of workers were at risk of disease, disability, and death by inhaling silica in mines, foundries, and quarries. By the 1950s, however, silicosis was nearly forgotten by the media and health professionals. Asking what makes a health threat a public issue, David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz examine how a culture defines disease and how disease itself is understood at different moments in history. They also consider who should assume responsibility for occupational disease. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Two Cheers for Big Government
Before you conclude from the title of this work that its contents are as dry as dust, let me assure you they are not. Notwithstanding its scholarly, measured language and meticulous documentation, this is a passionate, absorbing, and infuriating story of corporate greed and criminal contempt for the health of our country's foundry workers. The authors persuasively argue that the lower the status and power of the workers, the greater was their exposure to occupational health hazards. Despite the efforts of courageous lone voices in government and academia, the facts about silicosis were often suppressed. For example, a prestigious academic hired with industry approval to investigate the relationship between sandblasting and silicosis could not even publish his findings in a U.S. journal; his article was published in Germany instead! That millions of workers suffered severe disability and premature death due to silicosis had nothing to do with ignorance. As in the case of the cigarette industry, the facts were there: what was lacking was the government mandate and power to act on the facts. Anyone who carefully follows this tragic tale of unrelenting, unregulated greed and callousness by the foundries would do well to ponder the overly generalized assaults on the evils of big government in the U.S. Greater accountability and regulation earlier could have saved millions of lives. By the way, as the authors point out, industry was quite willing to embrace big government when it suited them. "Employers who had opposed the inclusion of silicosis... came running to the State pleading for the inclusion... so that they would be protected against the unlimited and terrifying common law damage suits which were being filed." ... Read more

15. Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis
by Deborah Hayden
list price: $27.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465028810
Catlog: Book (2003-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 254378
Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This brilliant work of social history reveals the hidden impact of syphilis on many of history's famous figures--from Wilde to Hitler to Abraham Lincoln--and its influence on the culture they created.

Was Beethoven experiencing syphilitic euphoria when he composed "Ode to Joy"? Did van Gogh paint "Crows Over the Wheatfield" in a fit of diseased madness right before he shot himself?

Was syphilis a stowaway on Columbus's return voyage to Europe? The answers to these provocative questions are likely "yes," claims Deborah Hayden in this riveting investigation of the effects of the "Pox" on the lives and works of world figures from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries. Writing with remarkable insight and narrative flair, Hayden argues that biographers and historians have vastly underestimated the influence of what Thomas Mann called "this exhilarating yet wasting disease." Shrouded in secrecy, syphilis was accompanied by wild euphoria and suicidal depression, megalomania and paranoia, profoundly affecting sufferers' worldview, their sexual behavior and personality, and, of course, their art. Deeply informed and courageously argued, Pox has already been heralded as a major contribution to our understanding of genius, madness, and creativity. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars genuinely interesting and well-researched, if unfocused
PERSPECTIVE: physician with interest in infectious diseases

Ms. Hayden's thesis here is an interesting one - not only did syphilis afflict many well-known historical figures, but its late-stage effects on the mind (as she terms it, "syphilitic euphoria") contributed to the creative zenith of authors and aritists, as well as shaping the lives and deeds of the powerful and influential. The first section of the book deals with the historical origins (and controversies) surrounding the origins of syphilis outbreaks in the late 1400's, as well as a reasonably adequate lay description of the disease. The main section deals with several figures from the 19th and 20th century, including well-known composers, philosophers, authors, artists, and political figures, none of whom have been confirmed to have syphilis, but suspected of such to greater or lesser degrees. In each case, she makes an argument for their infection and its effect on their lives and work, based on available historical documents, medical records, etc... The final sections include brief paragraphs discussing confirmed famous syphilitics, a list of general clues the author used in analyzing each case, and a reproduction of a 1926 case study on a patient.

Overall, the novel is flows well, and is easy and entertaining to read. Ms. Hayden's research is extensive and well-documented, and while she is not formally medically trained, she has certainly pored over medical texts from previous centuries up to today in order to educate herself and her readers.

Despite this, there are several issues of note. The "syphilitic euphoria" as a genesis for works of genius, medically, seems a bit of a strech in both its existance (as she characterizes it) and influence. It seems as though she loses her focus at some point - while earlier chapters, such as those on Schubert and Nietzsche, seem goal-oriented towards proving the presence of the infection, and its role in their work, other chapters (Lincoln and Hitler, notably) seem more like meandering discussions that, while interesting, ultimately come to no real conclusion as to the role of the disease. Additionally, while she seems convinced herself that each subject indeed had syphilis, and she works to makes a good case for each, some of her leaps of fact and logic seem a bit long. Ms. Hayden does occasionally make factual medical errors when discussing certain symptoms and their associations. Along those lines, she seems much more comfortable discussing such facts in the less precise medical terminology of "days gone by" than in present-day terms - this may be rooted in both her supposition that modern physicians know nothing of true end-stage syphilis (because we've been able to treat the infection early, successfully, with antibiotics for many decades, although how she can read the same old syphilis texts that physicians can, and be better than them at its diagnosis is a bit of a mystery to me) and that less-specific terminology allows her to make her cases better. The last sections also strike me as "fluff," of mild interest only.

FINAL WORD: The above quibbles aside, there is a lot to enjoy here, especially given Ms. Hayden's excellent historical research and entertaining writing style. A worthwhile read, but keep in mind that a lot of the author's conjectures are just that - conjectures. Buy it, check it out from the library, or buy it and donate it to your local library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Book on a Hidden Disease
I am a medical doctor and long-term student of VD in American history. Ms. Hayden has succeeded in a difficult task: writing convincingly about a medical subject when she is not a medical person. She enlisted help from the best of the best, such as my old professor Dr. Eugene Farber, and learned well from their teachings.

Without retrospective blood tests, it is impossible to PROVE that a person before 1900 had syphilis, but the combined wisdom of generations of doctors can give us reasonable certainty, and this Ms. Hayden has given us.

Some reviewer has asserted that Beethoven could not have had syphilis, because he wrote great music. (Perhaps logic and epistemology are no longer taught in our schools.)

I give thumbs up to this book for breaking new ground in an informative and thoroughly researched way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best on causes of death
This is a very medical, military, and philosophical book about the pox. Much of the text is concerned with what doctors knew at certain points between 1492, when a large number of men who traveled with Christopher Columbus (who died in 1506) started raging epidemics of various diseases on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and 1948, when Adolf Hitler's doctors died. The cause of death of everyone mentioned in the book is not included, but one of the doctors responsible for the information in the Military Intelligence Service Center Report, "Hitler as Seen by His Doctors," "Brandt was executed on 2 June 1948 at Landsberg prison for his role in Hitler's euthanasia program." (p. 290). The form of poetic justice involved in any consideration of the pox is similar to a poem of the early Greek general Archilochus, selection 184 in 7 GREEKS/ TRANSLATIONS BY GUY DAVENPORT, p. 55:

In the hospitality of war
We left them their dead
As a gift to remember us by.

In 1495, the French army of 18,000 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers for Charles VIII, king of France, took Naples, defended by Spanish troops and some women who came with them from Spain, but the people "expelled Charles within a week. . . . Poor Charles was the first of many monarchs to fall prey to the disease. Charles died of apoplexy three years later, at age twenty-eight, after hitting his head against the frame of a low door." (p. 13). Spanish "soldiers expelled the women, who were cheerfully accepted by the French soldiers--an early example of germ warfare." (p. 14).

Hitler's heartbeat, heard through a stethoscope, had an extra musical note due to aortic weakness. In 1875, a British army surgeon "found that about two-thirds of the records of fifty-three cases of rupturing aortic aneurysm had a previous history of syphilis." (p. 34). Beethoven, (pp. 71-88), Schubert (pp. 89-96), and Schumann (pp. 97-111), then Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) whose "agonized tone" could be traced "to his infection," (p. 314) get credit for setting the vibrations of their nerves to music.

Nietzsche, with a case that is well documented on pages 172-199 of this book, is the key philosopher for understanding the psychic link which bind the subjects of this book. Jaspers and Jung are mentioned a few times, but Hayden can look directly at his work for evidence that "He thought of a future time when his work would be understood and appreciated. In all these things we see a parallel with van Gogh during that same year. Pure creative inspiration, mental illness, or paretic disinhibition: whatever the combination, the result in each case was astonishing." (p. 199).

Many doctors knew what Nietzsche was suffering from, even if his mother and sister didn't know (p. 181) what he admitted when he was taken to "the nerve clinic of Dr. Wille, an expert on general paralysis of the insane," (p. 174) in Basel in January, 1889. Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) was the rare author who told people, "I've got the Pox!" (pp. 142, 144). His story, "Bed Number 29" is summarized on page 145 of this book. The victim in the story "was infected by the invading Prussians, but she got her revenge by passing her disease on to as many soldiers as possible. . . . she boasts that her score of deaths is greater than his." Deborah Hayden has done a tremendous amount of correlation of the information relating to the years from 1492 to 1948, but the psychic roots of much that she found is all too common, even though spirochetes did not provide a basis for the modern understanding of syphilis until they were discovered in 1905.

Recently in Science magazine (17 July 1998) the complete genome sequence of Treponema pallidum, the syphilis spirochete, was revealed to have 1,138,006 coding pairs containing 1,041 predicted coding sequences (Hayden, p. 26) but we still don't know everything. "Existing diagnostic tests are less than optimal. Even after treatment with penicillin some patients harbor spirochetes in `treponemal sanctuaries' such as the eye and the lymph glands. Many of the details of its life cycle remain unanswered." (p. 27).

My favorite page 252, shows a young Hitler staring out of a picture in the top half of the page, then has, "In 1936 Hitler hired a syphilologist, Theo Morell, to be his private physician." By 1941, there is "a pattern of syphilis beginning with one of the most terrifying manifestations of late syphilis, disease of the heart." The main comedy of the book is the urban legend aspect, how many people relied on beliefs which had no scientific basis, which is not funny as it applies to modern HIV infections on page 45. In Hitler's case, I think the funniest anecdote is related by Putzi Hanfstaengl, "who became Hitler's foreign press secretary" (p. 254) though "He ended up in Washington writing psychological profiles of Hitler and the Nazi inner circle for his old friend from the Harvard Club, Franklin D. Roosevelt." (p. 255). The funny story was related by Putzi to Rudolph Binion "in the early 1970s" (p. 255) and elaborated in this book through page 256, when this book turns to "In Landsberg prison after the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler wrote thirteen pages in MEIN KAMPF about syphilis being the direst threat to the future of the race," based on the belief "that syphilis could be inherited for many generations." (p. 264). In the syphilis epidemic after World War I, even Hitler had to wonder, "Finally, however: who can know whether he is sick or healthy? Are there not numerous cases in which a patient apparently cured relapses and causes frightful mischief without himself expecting it at first?" (p. 264). Please remember, "a glassblower with an infectious mucous patch in his mouth who infected a coworker when he passed a glassblowing pipe." (pp. 182-183). This book is not entirely about sex.

2-0 out of 5 stars An ok book, but a little dry
In this book, I really enjoyed the history of syphilis and how it was treated back in the day. That is where the two stars come in. However, towards the middle of the book I was getting sick of her trying to twist every little illness into a symptom of syphilis. Oh Shubert had the sniffles....MUST BE SYPHILIS. Lincoln was depressed.... MUST BE SYPHILIS. I am sorry to say but not everything was syphilis back then. Like Mary Lincoln for example, her husband was shot in the back of the head while he was sitting next to her.... I don't blame her for going mad! A lot of her points are overkilled, and don't make sense. These are one of those books that you can pick up in the middle and read a chapter and not miss anything. I think in every chapter she explains the symptoms and every detail of syphilis. I would recomend another book

4-0 out of 5 stars A book on syphillis that reads like a detective story
Early in January, 1889, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche collapsed on the street in Turin (Torino), Italy. He was taken to his mother in Germany and placed in a mental institution. After a few months he was released to the care of his family, where he lived another eleven years as an invalid.   

After Nietzsche's death in 1900, Nietzsche's close friend, Franz Overbeck, divulged that the director of the hospital where Nietzsche had been taken swore him to secrecy and then told him that Nietzsche had syphilis.   

The consensus of contemporary scholars, including Deborah Hayden, in her study Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis, is that Nietzsche indeed suffered from syphilis, a disease often called the 'French disease" and the 'Great Imitator" because its symptoms mimic those of many other diseases.   

Deborah Hayden, who lives in Mill Valley, Calif., is an independent scholar and marketing executive. She has lectured widely on "Syphilis and Creativity," most recently at UCSF Medical School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Bay Area History of Medicine Society.

Now, in Pox, Hayden has written a provocative and controversial work that reads much like a detective story.

"Pox began," writes Hayden, "with my curiosity about syphilis ... to learn more about Nietzsche's illness. But the project quickly expanded as I found one reference after another to other cases--all hidden, mostly disputed--in the higher reaches of culture and politics."   

Who, besides Nietzsche, are candidates for the dreaded pox? Hayden devotes chapters to Christopher Columbus, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Charles Baudelaire, Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln, Gustave Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), James Joyce, and Adolf Hitler.   

In a final "Pox Gallery," Hayden writes: "Suspected (or known) syphilitics include Idi Amin, Darwin, Donizette, Dostoevsky, Durer, Lenin, Meriwether Lewis, Mozart, Napoleon, Paginini, Edgar Allan Poe, Rabelais, Stalin, Tolstoi, and Woodrow Wilson."   

In tracking down the mysteries of pox, there often is no "smoking gun" to establish beyond doubt that a particular subject suffered from syphilis. However, in many of these cases Hayden presents enough circumstantial evidence to convince an impartial jury.   

Many readers will bristle to hear that Beethoven's magnificent Ninth Symphony, including the "Ode to Joy," was probably composed during a mystical euphoria brought on by tertiary syphilis.   

In a quantum universe, almost anything is possible. But one should bear in mind that possibilities do not automatically or necessarily translate into probabilities or actualities.   

The bottom line is that many of Hayden's speculations are fascinating, but they are just that: speculations that must be viewed skeptically.

Roy E. Perry of Nolensville is an amateur philosopher, Civil War buff, classical music lover, and chess enthusiast. He is an advertising copywriter at a Nashville Publishing House.

Syphilis.--(from Syphilus, hero of the poem Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus (Syphilis or the French disease) (1530) by Girolamo Fracastoro (1553), Italian poet, physician, and astronomer: a chronic contagious usually venereal and often congenital disease caused by a spirochete (Treponema pallidum) and if left untreated producing chancres, rashes, and systemic lesions in a clinical course with three stages continued over many years. Compare Primary Syphilis, Secondary Syphilis, and Tertiary Syphilis.--From Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition ... Read more

16. Obstetrics and Gynecology: A History and Iconography - Revised Third Edition of Iconographia Gyniatrica
by Harold Speert
list price: $169.95
our price: $169.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 184214278X
Catlog: Book (2004-01-28)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
Sales Rank: 815814
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Book Description

Obstetrics and Gynecology: A History and Iconography is the revised edition of Iconographia Gyniatrica, the first comprehensive attempt to record the history of obstetrics and gynecology through pictures. With nearly 1000 illustrations, it provides a monumental historical scope extending through prehistory.Drawing upon masterpieces of art, archeology, and medicine throughout the ages, this work is the most complete pictorial record of the art and science of obstetrics and gynecology ever published. It includes female anatomy, midwifery, embryology, labor and complications, obstetrical instruments, newborns, nursing, contraception, and obstetric and gynecological surgery. ... Read more

17. The State Boys Rebellion
by Michael D'Antonio
list price: $25.00
our price: $15.75
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Asin: 0743245121
Catlog: Book (2004-05-03)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 30156
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

At age seven, an orphan boy named Freddie Boyce finally believed he had found a real home with a kindly widow who raised foster children on her farm in rural Massachusetts. But when his foster mother died in the winter of 1949, Freddie was subjected to a rudimentary IQ test and then sent to a state institution for the feebleminded. There, along with other relatively normal State Boys, he would endure neglect, abuse, and terror and live without the hope of ever being free again.

Though they couldn't possible know it, the children of the Fernald State School were the victims of bad science and a newly developed bureaucracy designed to save America from the so-called "menace of the feebleminded." Beginning early in the twentieth century, United States health officials used crude versions of the modern IQ tests to identify supposedly "deficient" children and lock them away. The idea was to protect society from potential criminals and to prevent so-called undesirables from having children and degrading the American gene pool.

Under programs that existed in almost every state and continued into the 1970s, more than 250,000 children were separated from their families. Tens of thousands of these were not disabled but merely unwanted orphans, truants, or delinquents. Yet they were denied proper education, routinely abused, and could be subjected to forced surgical sterilization, lobotomy, shock therapy, and psychotropic drugs.

The State Boys Rebellion is the dramatic and meticulously researched true story of Fred Boyce and a group of boys who never accepted their incarceration at the Fernald State School in Massachusetts and insisted they were normal. In many cases, school officials noted that they were not disabled and did not belong in an institution. But the school depended on their unpaid labor, and so they were kept locked away in wards where many were beaten, raped, forced to fight each other. They were offered no hope for freedom and knew that others had grown old and died within Fernald's walls.

Inspired by what they learned from television and radio about the national civil rights movement, the State Boys protested their mistreatment, pleaded in vain for their freedom, and rebelled by running away. Finally, in a desperate attempt to get attention for their plight, they seized control of a prisonlike ward and demanded their rights. Although the participants in this dramatic event were imprisoned for their actions, the takeover eventually led to freedom for many State Boys, who were given minimal training and then released to fend for themselves.

In these pages, the reader will learn how the State Boys struggle to survive without family, social connections, or education. Some never adjust and die of alcohol and drug abuse. Others manage to build stable lives, with good jobs, family, and friends. While they try to forget the past, it all comes rushing back in the 1990s when news reports announce that they had been used as human guinea pigs in Cold War experiments in which they were fed radioactive oatmeal. Under Fred Boyce's leadership, the State Boys reunite, sue, and win a multimillion-dollar settlement.

To capture this story, award-winning journalist Michael D'Antonio worked closely with the surviving State Boys, interviewed former Fernald teachers and professionals, used the archives of the school, and won the release of previously sealed papers. The result is a thoroughly documented story from an almost-forgotten corner of American history. It reveals the danger in misguided science, the fearsome power of unchecked bureaucracies, and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Family ...Treated in an Un-American way.
Finally, A Book about the way we were.. or, God forbid, the way we might still be. Mr. D,antonio,s research of our Governments,s nuclear application,s was not intended to lead him right to The Fernald State School, located in Waltham, Massachusetts, and one Mr. Frederick Boyce, But it did for some strange reason, lead him there. With the resulting introduction to Fred Boyce. From his research, Mr. D, Antonio was afforded a view that few Americans are ever afforded. Mr. D,Antonio was afforded a view of just how, our system of social welfare, and social care was doled out in the middle of the twentieth century. The shame of this True story is not soley in the past believe and practice of Eugenics, but in the past believe and practice of warehousing State kids. Warehousing them in any Environement enabled the servicing Social Worker to look like he or she has done their job. This writer still believes this practice still exists today.This Book is a compelling read and I am very gratefull to the author and I am very proud of the courage and accomplishmenst Frederick L. Boyce. (...)

5-0 out of 5 stars Triumph of the Supposed Morons
We could never have an institution today called the Massachusetts School for Idiotic and Feebleminded Youth. It is not just political correctness that would forbid such a name; "idiocy" and "feeblemindedness" were once thought to be real diagnosable conditions, and they are not now. The MSIFY existed, however, but even after it changed its name to the Fernald State School, it was through the 1960s still housing what officials thought were idiotic, moronic, and feebleminded young people. Sadly, huge numbers of the kids kept there (and in countless similar institutions) had no mental handicaps whatsoever. In _The State Boys Rebellion: A True Story_ (Simon and Schuster), Michael D'Antonio exposes the Fernald story, a sorry and sordid tale. The kids described here would today, it is hoped, get reliable foster homes and any special education that was necessary; at the time, they got neglect, assaults, rapes, and cruelty. Some of the boys described here forced their way out, and did fare surprisingly well, and did get their histories out in the public view, so at least in part this is a story of an inspiring victory over the system.

D'Antonio has done a particularly good job at putting the Fernald story into historical context, showing Fernald as a product of the eugenics movement. The idea was that morons (a term coined as a medical diagnosis) could be segregated and prevented from breeding more morons. Among the problems was that at Fernald, plenty of the children were normal. As Fred Boyce, the main State Boy profiled here, said decades later, "Keep in mind that we didn't commit any crimes. We were just seven-year-old orphans." Boyce was of at least average intelligence; even his official record at the place said, "He is certainly not feebleminded." He was skillful at sizing up other people, and interested in science. He needed adoption, but such recommendations produced no effect. He was only released when he was nineteen. In Fernald, there was an over-reliance on IQ test scores, and once a label IQ number had been applied, it stuck. This was true even if teachers could tell just by talking to the boys that the scores were meaningless. Whatever IQ scores mean, it was true that the boys _dropped_ in their scores as they stayed in state custody, even though authorities taught that IQ was a permanent fixture.

The boys were supposed to be separated from the world, but some of the world crept in, from radio and television; one of Boyce's means of learning about the outside was a crystal radio he built, using a found quartz rock for a crystal. As teenagers, they had a natural rebelliousness combined with a desire to fit in, and they gradually found that they were much more like their fellow teens on the outside than any morons. Inspired by the civil rights struggles in Little Rock, some of the boys took over one of the wards in 1957. They rioted, and some wound up in prison. The real rebellion of the state boys took place in 1995. They were undereducated, but many of them had found work and made families, although some of them did not reveal even to their wives the horrors of where they had been brought up. Many of them united to start speaking publicly about what they had endured, and brought a successful lawsuit against the state and against Quaker Oats for having used them as unwitting test subjects in nutrition experiments involving radioactive oatmeal. A researcher who interviewed the boys to help with the lawsuit put it perfectly: "These guys had their lives ruined because people where trying to do good. That may be the scariest thing about it." D'Antonio's clear, restrained, and sympathetic portrayal of a misguided institution and its captives is a fitting parable about good intentions.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction
Fred Boyce and the Science Club boys suffered at the hands of the US government. However, the message of this book is far from bleak. Fred and the other boys lived useful lives after Fernald. Fred Boyce talked to hundreds of high school students via speakerphone following his lawsuit, exhorting them to act on inequities they find in society. This story has legs!
This book is very well researched and written, and deserves a place on your home bookshelf.

4-0 out of 5 stars A troubling story
Michael D'Antonio's new book, "The Boys State Rebellion" is a look into the troubled life of an institution and the repercussions it had on American Society. The lives of those who were subjected to this kind of life have been immeasurably altered and most for no good reason.

The book centers around the Fernald home in Massachusetts largely in the 1950s. Although girls resided at the home D'Antonio tells much more through the eyes of the boys, most notably Fred Boyce. Placed in Fernald for many different reasons these boys were labeled "morons" when most of them clearly had abilities far and above their designation. The filth and squalor in which they lived was often accompanied by physical and verbal abuse that led to an uprising in November, 1957 for which the book has been named.

While the author's writing is a little wooden, he nonetheless conveys the state of life at Fernald and goes on to tell of what happened to many of these boys as they grew into adulthood. That any of them survived the horrors of Fernald is miraculous and a great testament to the courage and mettle that they exhibited.

5-0 out of 5 stars Informative and captivating
This book details an important part of American history, the early eugenics movement. While remaining informative, the book is engaging and interesting to read. D'Antonio skillfully weaves the stories of the State Boys together with facts about the Fernald home and other institutions around the country. The book reflects a great deal of research and effort. ... Read more

18. The Barbary Plague : The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco
list price: $25.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375504966
Catlog: Book (2003-03-18)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 129615
Average Customer Review: 4.36 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“San Francisco in 1900 was a Gold Rush boomtown settling into a gaudy middle age. . . . It had a pompous new skyline with skyscrapers nearly twenty stories tall, grand hotels, and Victorian mansions on Nob Hill. . . . The wharf bristled with masts and smokestacks from as many as a thousand sailing ships and steamers arriving each year. . . . But the harbor would not be safe for long. Across the Pacific came an unexpected import, bubonic plague. Sailing from China and Hawaii into the unbridged arms of the Golden Gate, it arrived aboard vessels bearing rich cargoes, hopeful immigrants, and infected vermin. The rats slipped out of their shadowy holds, scuttled down the rigging, and alighted on the wharf. Uphill they scurried, insinuating themselves into the heart of the city.”

The plague first sailed into San Francisco on the steamer Australia, on the day after New Year’s in 1900. Though the ship passed inspection, some of her stowaways—infected rats—escaped detection and made their way into the city’s sewer system. Two months later, the first human case of bubonic plague surfaced in Chinatown.

Initially in charge of the government’s response was Quarantine Officer Dr. Joseph Kinyoun. An intellectually astute but autocratic scientist, Kinyoun lacked the diplomatic skill to manage the public health crisis successfully. He correctly diagnosed the plague, but because of his quarantine efforts, he was branded an alarmist and a racist, and was forced from his post. When a second epidemic erupted five years later, the more self-possessed and charming Dr. Rupert Blue was placed in command. He won the trust of San Franciscans by shifting the government’s attack on the plague from the cool remove of the laboratory onto the streets, among the people it affected. Blue preached sanitation to contain the disease, but it was only when he focused his attack on the newly discovered source of the plague, infected rats and their fleas, that he finally eradicated it—truly one of the great, if little known, triumphs in American public health history.

With stunning narrative immediacy fortified by rich research, Marilyn Chase transports us to the city during the late Victorian age—a roiling melting pot of races and cultures that, nearly destroyed by an earthquake, was reborn, thanks in no small part to Rupert Blue and his motley band of pied pipers.
... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent medical reporting and storytelling
Plague is a fascinating subject because it is so utterly awful and so feared. Marilyn Chase's book not only explains this ancient (and current) disease, it is also a social history of San Francisco at the turn of the century. The disease first struck working-poor Chinese, and the rich white establishment wrongly figured they could stamp it out by being wretched to this minority population. When that didn't work, they denied that plague existed and impugned the public health doctor who kept insisting that it did.
Chase shows the official conspiracy--including the city's press--that not only kept information from the public but actively lied to San Franciscans. Ultimately, she shows that the battle to rid San Francisco of plague was won by persistence, diplomacy and sharing the nitty-gritty facts with the public.
Those who think the plague is a disease of the past, or at least of the Third World, might be interested to read the epilogue. It shows that plague is carried by rodents of the American West, and contains an account of a plague case in New Mexico in 2000.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Black Death in Early San Francisco
This book is not only a fascinating look into the origins of the bubonic plauge in early San Francisco, tracing the disease's trek from China through Hong Kong to Chinatown in Honolulu and spreading itself in the western frontier of California; it is a view of how racism and politics affected interfered with solution. When plague first appeared in San Francisco, it struck the Chinatown area the hardest, inflaming tensions between the whites and the immigrants. When Dr. Joseph Kinyoun threatened quaratine of the entire area, the businessmen and politicians rose against him, putting the city' s profitability before the public's health. His replacement, Rupert Blue, managed the plague clean-up campaign with much diplomacy and brought about sweeping changes that not only curbed the rise of the plague, but also enhanced the city's image.

This book has it all -- poitical intrigue, racism, a disease out of control, heroes and villains. Sometimes non-fiction can be better than most novels, and in this case, it makes for a great book well worth reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, fun, and a quick read despite flowery language
If I thought too much about the language, I tended to think "who was this person's editor, and what were they drinking?" But despite the intermittent distraction, I found it fascinating. The author tells a real non-fiction story - and it measures up to a good fiction read. I'm from San Francisco, so I had an added interest in the location if not the topic, but, come on, who isn't fascinated by The Plague? The author jumped around in time in a way that had no rhyme or reason for me, but again, I wasn't more than temporarily distracted by this. Worth the time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Timely
Ms. Chase has mixed a veritable cauldron of explosive subjects about which to write something fresh: politics and race in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, the just emerging discoveries about plague vectors, topped off with brand new research into the characters who stood at the center of an outbreak of plague in San Francisco's Chinatown. She recounts how the early cases were misdiagnosed or dismissed in order to prevent damage to the city's reputation, and while the descriptions of individual cases is by its nature repetitive, the story is made all the more powerful as the epidemic's toll mounts and, finally, subsides. Ms. Chase describes the anti-rat campaign and its role in beating the plague, and pinpoints the seemingly minor difference in flea types that saved us from a much worse outbreak. Ms. Chase scrupulously avoided the easy paths to sensationalism and chose to stick to the facts. For instance, she makes the point that it was evident that the number of plague victims was being undercounted due to sufferers (or bodies) being removed from the city, possibly in collusion with authorities, but steadfastly sticks only to the proven cases in proving the existence of an "epidemic". The epidemic may have been far worse than recorded. And coming just as we were avoiding travel to certain destinations because of SARS, her book is an outstanding reminder of the responsibility of public health authorities to place the public good above all else in matters of infectious disease. If you are interested in the early days of public health in the United States, or wish to draw lessons for the present, this book is a must read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes in San Francisco
A medical history that rivals whodunnits as a page-turner. For all its scrupulous research and shocking parallels to our own day, it generates an excitement that many novelists would envy. The colorful characters - greedy businessmen, dishonest politicians, a timid medical establishment, an heroic doctor - live with growing danger from disease, earthquake, fire and even from city officials intent on a coverup. As a bonus, one reads a fascinating history of San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century. ... Read more

19. A Brief History of Disease, Science and Medicine
by Michael Kennedy
list price: $29.95
our price: $25.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0974946648
Catlog: Book (2004-02)
Publisher: Asklepiad Press
Sales Rank: 163568
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This introduction to the history of medicine begins with the evolution of infectious diseases at the end of the last ice age. It describes the origin of science and medicine in ancient civilizations, including China and India. The first third of the book covers the early period that is considered the "classical" history of medicine. The remainder describes the evolution of modern medicine and surgery up to the present. The final chapter is a history of medical economics and explains the origin of health insurance, HMOs and medical malpractice lawsuits, subjects explained nowhere else in the medical school curriculum.

There is a 40 page index and over 550 footnotes, most of them references to the original articles described in the text. A bibliography of essential sources is also included. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars The product of a three year research project
A Brief History Of Disease, Science & Medicine is the product of Dr. Michael Kennedy's three year research project to write a book that would fill the unfortunate gaps in most medical student's educational curriculums, and also be of considerable value for the non-specialist general reader seeking a clearer understanding of the long history behind what we commonly recognize as the history of medical development from superstition to science. The first eight chapters aptly cover the history of early medicine and science described in more detail than typical medical history. Then Dr. Kennedy goes on to cover the discovery of anesthesia and antisepsis, the development of modern medicine and surgery, and concludes with a history of medical economics (including the origin of medical malpractice litigation). A Brief History Of Disease, Science & Medicine is enthusiastically recommended any and all for personal, professional, academic, and community library History of Medicine reference collections.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and highly informative
This fascinating book is an up-to-date history of medicine and medical science. The book begins with a fascinating look at medicine and diseases from prehistoric times to the early nineteenth century, when so little of such things were truly understood. Then, the pace of the book picks up, when the speed of breakthroughs in medical understanding and technology began to simply explode. And then, the final, more modern, chapters spread out, covering everything from DNA and anesthesia to the economics of medicine.

This book was originally designed with medical students and young physicians in mind, but it is no dry textbook. Instead, this book is a fascinating read, covering a whole lot of subjects, without becoming boring. What I especially liked was that the author obviously deeply understands non-Western medicine, and he made sure to include in it in the book. This book is a great read with lots of fascinating information (for example: did you know that King Henry VIII of England probably suffered from syphilis, and that the disease probably had a major role in history?). Overall, I found this to be a fascinating and highly informative book, and I highly recommend it to you!

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting look into the history of medicine - good and bad
Personally I always enjoy a historical book that actually discusses history and not some surgically altered history that only reports the things that went right. That is what you get with "A Brief History of Disease, Science & Medicine". Not only do you read about the great advances in medicine but also about the mistakes that were made along the way. Although the book was written with the first year medical student in mind it is easy enough to read and understand by those with only a passing knowledge of basic first aid. Perhaps one sentence from the Forward best describes the writing style - " has been written to be read, rather than studied."

Dr. Kennedy states that this book was not widely accepted by the academic presses and so was published independently. It is fairly obvious that one of the reasons this might be the case is his candid examination of the history of medicine. In an age when most practitioners of the medical profession seem to feel that they have perfect knowledge, Dr. Kennedy's book shows that they have often been wrong with tragic results. Take for instance the case of Ignaz Semmelweiss who worked in a hospital where there was a twenty-nine percent mortality rate for women giving birth. Through experimentation and deduction he came to believe that washing your hands between patients and after autopsies would cause this rate to drop. He ordered that hand washing would be done between patients and the rate of death dropped drastically. However, since he had not reason why it worked it was resisted, he eventually resigned (other historians have noted that he was forced to resign) and the doctors returned to their old habits and the old mortality rate. After all it made no sense to them that something they could not see could make any difference. Many people will immediately see the similarities between things like this and modern attitude of medical science as related to alternative therapies - if we don't yet understand how it works then it must not work. Most medical history texts are severely sanitized to keep such historical errors out. So, it is really no surprise that this book, which portrays history as it was, from many primary sources, is not the most popular one among the medical establishment.

Personally, I enjoyed the book but I am one of those who enjoys history from a viewpoint of accuracy - warts and all. Still you should be prepared to have some of your history that you learned in high school discredited. I remember learning that Louis Pasteur invented innoculations to prevent disease in the later 1800's, but the fact is that Charles Maitland and others were doing it in the 1700's. "A Brief History of Disease, Science and Medicine" is a recommended read for anyone interested in the history and progression of medicine.

5-0 out of 5 stars master storyteller tells, with love, how medicine grew up
I couldn't put it down, because it hit so many of my buttons: history, medical sciences, and just plain storytelling. While I'm most known in network engineering, clinical medicine has always been an intellectual love. While I often tell people "I'm not a doctor but I simulate them on computers," I learned a great deal from this book -- above all, the connections and less-than-obvious relationships between concepts. Kennedy chronicles both the major insights and the terribly wrong blind alleys that characterize what many call the "youngest science".
It's too easy to forget, looking at modern medicine, how recent most developments are -- and yet how many ancient insights were correct. Kennedy literally goes back to the dawn of history, explaining original ideas, how they were expanded upon, how they were confused, and how they finally converged into a scientific discipline -- that remains an art.
While the author occasionally does drop to the molecular level, it isn't necessary to have a detailed background to understand the map he reveals. There are enough very specific insights to give a medical expert a few pleasant doubletakes, as well as to introduce the layman to how we reached our current views.
There were times that I wanted more detail on a technical topic, but isn't it traditional for the great storytellers to leave you hanging, wanting more?
The author doesn't ignore that medicine always exists in a social and technical context. Religion has both suppressed and enhanced medical knowledge, and he presents both ends of the spectrum. Anyone who gets into the real world of hospitals, to say nothing of academic research, learns very quickly of the profusion of enormous egos -- and the politics resulting from them. While people may be pictured smiling as they receive Nobel Prizes, quite a number were suppressing rage at their co-awardees, or feeling terrible because their collaborator wasn't up there as well.
In modern times, more general financial and political interests have a great deal to do with the practice of medicine. Kennedy has definite opinions on where managed care and outcomes research improved care, and also where they've gone horribly wrong.

5-0 out of 5 stars Splendid piece of work, authoritative and readable
Brief this is not, but compared to some dry academic tomes it seems brief. University of Southern California professor Dr. Michael T. Kennedy has the all too rare gift of writing well which he combines with a passion for detail so that this history is packed with the bizarre, the fascinating, the arcane, and the all too often revolting facts of medical delusion, malpractice, and triumph that have characterized the long and tortured history of the healing arts.

Note well that this is a history not only of medicine and disease, but of science as well. The emphasis is on twentieth century developments, which is as it should be since so much has happened in recent times. This is not to say that the more distant past is neglected. Kennedy starts with the pre-history and follows the quest for health through Greek and Roman times to "The Rise of Islam and Arabic Medicine" (Chapter 5) with excursions into ayurvedic medicine (from India) and the traditional Chinese practices from antiquity. He even looks at European health, or the lack thereof, during the Dark and Middle Ages before the rise of science. When he gets to the modern or nearly modern era, Kennedy organizes less by chronology and more by subject matter. Some of the later chapters are about "Cardiac Surgery," "Transplantation," "Psychiatry," etc. I particularly liked the crisp way he dealt with psychoanalytic theory and the inefficacy of psychoanalysis.

Frankly, I don't know if there is anything else quite like this available. The recognized authority on the subject of the history of medicine in English, University College London's late Roy Porter wrote both a popular account, Blood and Guts: A Short History of Medicine (2002), and a full blown treatment, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind (1997) which Kennedy cites. I have read the former and it is to Kennedy's book as Mary Poppins is to Hamlet. There are other histories, but most are either not current or too voluminous or too restricted in content.

Dr. Kennedy shows how various ideas and methods were developed, how they stemmed from, or were in contrast to, earlier methods; and he highlights the personalities of the practitioners as he describes what they did or discovered. He also focuses on patients and their stories. His style is sharp and uncluttered. Sometimes he employs a dry, cynical wit. At other times his report takes on extra-medical aspects that lend depth and familiarity to his portraits, as when, for example, he reports on the tragic death of transplant pioneer, Dr. David Hume. (p. 388)

Here are some examples of the kind of detail that I found fascinating:

"The early Middle Ages saw little consumption of animal protein by the peasants, but legume production, which increased with the agricultural revolution, reduced the dependence on carbohydrates and led to rapid population growth again." (p. 69)

And on the following page: "Women lived shorter lives than men in the Middle Ages...This is attributed to the hazards of childbirth, but also to an iron deficient diet...[because] animal protein was not available."

"...[A]lthough opium offered some relief of pain...until the anesthesia era, speed was the sign of the good surgeon." (p. 85)

"Infectious diseases were uncommon in primitive societies because the available pool of susceptible individuals was too small and the contact with other groups was not common." (p. 87) Indeed, infectious disease is part of the price we pay for agriculture and civilization.

Quoting Freud: "I often console myself with the idea that, even though we achieve so little therapeutically, at least we understand why more cannot be achieved." (p. 401) This is doubly ironic since Freud was even deceived in what he thought he understood. A few pages later Kennedy drily remarks that psychotherapy "is useful in helping adults to deal with life stress. It has little or no role in treating psychosis. The serious mental illnesses are increasingly seen as biological disorders." (p. 424)

The only weakness of this book is that it could have used a more meticulous editor. (The proofreading is excellent.) Kennedy's writing style is fast-forward, actually suggesting to me how medical history might be written had somebody like, say, novelist James M. Cain taken his hand to it. The words just rush down the page. Kennedy has so much to say and he wants to get it all said. Sometimes one has to read a sentence twice since sometimes his tenses are a little eccentric, and parallel construction is not always strictly observed.

There are two indices, one for names, but I notice that the aforementioned Roy Porter, for example, does not appear in either of them. Probably the names in the footnotes were left out. Also the references (545 of them) are collected at the end of each chapter, which is fine, but there is no overall alphabetized bibliography. This is a pet peeve of mine since one has to chase through chapter after chapter to see if a particular work is cited.

However Kennedy more than makes up for this deficiency with what he calls a "Postscript" which is a lightly annotated bibliography organized into the categories, "Recommended Reading," "General Sources," and sources by individual chapters.

Bottom line: the best history of medicine that I have found and a delight to read. ... Read more

20. Soul Made Flesh : The Discovery of the Brain--and How it Changed the World
by Carl Zimmer
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743230388
Catlog: Book (2004-01-06)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 3593
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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In Soul Made Flesh, Carl Zimmer reveals the strange and complicated history of the discovery of the human brain. Amid the turmoil of 17th century England, with religious leaders and monarchs battling for control of the country, an elite group of thinkers used every scientific means at their disposal to figure out that the unassuming putty in our heads was crucial to human health and wisdom.Primary among these Oxford scholars was Thomas Willis, whom the Royal Society affectionately called "our chymist." Soul Made Flesh is as much a biography of Willis and the men who shaped him as it is a medical history. Zimmer admirably sets the stage for what would become a metaphysical revolution and spark arguments that continue to this day about what the mind is and where, if anywhere, the human soul resides:

Thomas Willis... isolated the soul from stars and demons and made the chemical workings of the brain the key to sanity and happiness. Just as important, he helped make the brain a familiar thing.
Zimmer applies the same dedicated research and quietly sparkling style to this book as he did to Parasite Rex and At the Water's Edge, distilling reams of historical and scientific information into a concise yet comprehensive narrative. The book's chapters are accompanied by drawings by Willis' contemporary Christopher Wren, whose architectural sensibilities made the brain's structure beautiful to behold. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Science with Soul
Soul Made Flesh is a marvelously nuanced and accessible work about a little-known moment in the history of science--the birth of modern neurology. Central to this revolutionary period is the Englishman Thomas Willis (1621-1675), a man of humble beginnings who rises by his own wits to become the most famous physician and scientist of his time.

During his life, Willis describes the brain and nervous system in an entirely new way and quite literally changes the way scientists approach disease, treatment, and research into the human body. It's an amazing accomplishment for someone so obscure to most modern readers. Zimmer has, perhaps, changed that for good, because he offers a wonderfully thoughtful examination of Willis the man, scientist, and physician that nearly anyone will find a pleasure to read.

Zimmer includes in early chapters a splendid primer on the state of medical/philosophical thought during Willis's formative years of education in Oxford. This gallop through history is often botched in science books, but Zimmer eases you along in an informed and even entertaining way from Hippocrates, Aristotle, Galen, Aquinas, Copernicus, Galileo, and Descartes up to Willis's contemporaries, such as Harvey. Zimmer knows his stuff and gets it all just right. Occasionally I wished he had written a bit more about a few of the more colorful figures, like the truly bizarre Descartes, but it's no flaw of the book.

Zimmer hits a stride when Willis and his circle at Oxford begin their regular meetings and examinations together. It's an exciting tale to tell and one feels drawn right into the era with wonderful descriptions of the sights and not so pleasant smells of 17th century England. He also profiles many of the famous and sometimes obscure characters of the period.

Amidst all the scientific chronicles of dissection, hangings, brain injuries, seizures, cholera, and other mostly horrible matters of the flesh, there are the constant metaphysical questions that arise about the soul. It is this balance of the physic and metaphysic that makes this book so satisfying. But I think the book's real triumph is the celebration of Willis's fine mind and accomplishment through so much adversity.

5-0 out of 5 stars profound story, great writing
I couldn't put the book down; once begun it captured my reading time. The book covers the era when Oxford scientists truly realized that the brain was where we are at. It's the source of emotions, thoughts, and the self. The main character in this discovery, based on anatomy and experiments, was the Oxford physician Thomas Willis. Here we learn how the intricacies of an individual life lead to scientific studies of enormous import. What a life. What a time. Willis' friends and circle of colleagues included Hooke, Boyle, and Wren. They saw deeply into the implications of the scientific method, yet were still much on the cusp of superstition and alchemy as well. When they conducted science, almost everything they touched was a new discovery. This was the time when the basic paradigm of neuroscience began, a paradigm that continues to this day (which Zimmer brings us up to in a final chapter), a paradigm that is creating ever more difficult questions about who we are, what is free will, and what is consciousness. --Tyler Volk, author of "Metapatterns," "Gaia's Body," and "What is Death?"

5-0 out of 5 stars Finding and treating the "soul"
Debates about the "soul" have raged for millennia. Because we tend to think these debates are confined to the realms of philosophy and theology, we ignore the contribution medicine has made to our perception of the "self". Carl Zimmer's examination of the debate and its significant participants enlarges our outlook. His depiction of the life of Thomas Willis in tumultuous 17th Century Britain reveals the pioneering research that lead to a new view of the body's functions. The "soul", so long a mysterious concept, began to be exposed in the brain and its relation to the rest of the body. The study of illnesses, particularly those associated with behaviour, disclosed how false traditional views truly were.

The ancients, Zimmer explains, had varying ideas about the body's workings. He summarises the many views, noting how certain ancient thinkers, particularly Galen, came to be adopted by Christianity. Once admitted within the Church's fold, their teachings became part of the established dogma. Orthodoxy substituted for observation, inhibiting learning. The number of lives lost is incalcuable, but dissent through evidence was perilous. Even the Greeks, Zimmer reminds us, considered dismembering cadavers distasteful. Real medicine was thus kept in check for centuries.

While Protestantism overthrew many dogmas, medicine remained a restrained science. The issue of the "soul", where it resided and how it functioned, remained an enigma. The stomach, liver and heart were all candidates for the home of the "soul". The brain was viewed as a "useless mass of grey porridge". Zimmer's illuminating study depicts the revolution Willis wrought in explaining the brain's central role. He learned to dissect the brain, which decays faster than other organs, and initiated explanations of the nervous system. His illustrator was none other than Christopher Wren, famous Restoration architect. Together, they demonstrated the brain's arterial and nerve arrangement in what became known as the Circle of Willis - the entwined network of signal systems and energy resources. The collaboration was published as "The Anatomy of the Brain", the founding document of the science of neurology.

Willis established what Zimmer describes as the "four pillars of neurology". The first of these is the interaction of the body through the nerves to the brain. Second, the body's activities can be mapped in particular areas in the brain. Stimulation and response thus become predictable - showing the brain is structured, not merely an incohate melange of "grey porridge". Third, Willis and his followers demonstrated the similar structure of the brains of all animals. Tests showed clearly the body-brain interaction is common to all creatures. Finally, abnormal behaviour and many illnesses can be chemically treated. Although Zimmer describes today's world as "awash in brain drugs", benefits can be derived through proper therapy.

Although Zimmer covers a wealth of material, from the ancient Greeks through modern times, you aren't overwhelmed by this history. With an accessible prose style, he explains how growing knowledge of the body led to a new science. He communicates his own enthusiasm effortlessly, drawing the reader into the story. Each chapter is prefaced by an illustration of the material - all drawn from Wren's depictions. The only lack in these graphics is a modern diagram of the brain's anatomy. His concluding chapter on modern brain mapping details brain areas reflecting particular functions and emotions. The brain may be divided physcially, but the neural network is a highly integrated structure. Zimmer has produced a compelling study of the medical and the metaphysical. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]

5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Blend
Soul Made Flesh is a masterful blend of science, history and philosophy. Carl Zimmer weaves a fascinating narrative around an overlooked historical moment - the discovery of the brain - by looping back and forth through the centuries from ancient Greece to the new millennium while keeping his gaze fixed on 17th century England. As someone schooled in the classics, whose college curriculum consisted wholly of the Great Books, I found Zimmer's new book particularly satisfying to read. Soul Made Flesh is far more than a gallop through history. It goes well beyond identifying who was influenced by who, what I call the "connecting the dots through time" approach often conveyed in reverential tones by writers who have read only secondary sources of Aristotle, Descartes or Locke. Zimmer's book breathes life into the classics by allowing the reader to "overhear" Willis and his Oxford Circle peers examining, questioning and arguing about these texts even as they toil to expand anatomical knowledge beyond all previous bounds.

As I neared the end of Soul Made Flesh, I happened to read a Boston Globe Magazine interview with Andrea Barrett, author of The Voyage of the Narwhal and, like Zimmer, a gifted science essayist. I was struck by a passage in which Barrett talks about "the unspoken disappointment of science" - research stolen or lost, specimens left in sunken ships, a life's worth of work made irrelevant by changing times. "I think about [loss] a lot. It's a very, very real part of science, but it's not the part that gets passed down," says Barrett. "We know the stories of famous scientists, but we don't hear the stories of people working hard and passionately half a tier down." Barrett could have been talking about Zimmer's book as much as her own. In Soul Made Flesh, a disillusioned old man hands over his research notes to a young passerby, scientific manuscripts are reworked to appease punitive church leaders, careers in medicine are interrupted by war, and cadavers eventually rot. Most everyone who reads Soul Made Flesh will feel a deep appreciation to Zimmer for persevering in his own research and writing to deliver a book that ensures Willis' founding contributions to neuroscience will be known, discussed and remembered.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great History & Science
Zimmer makes history lively and science understandable. It's incredible how much of our current understanding of ourselves was first proposed by Dr. Willis and his colleagues. A must read if you're interested in neuroscience. ... Read more

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