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An American Doctor's Odyssey: Adventures in Forty-Five Countries Hardcover – Black & White, August 1, 1936


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (August 1936)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393073319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393073317
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Very interesting book and a great read.
John D. Hulsing
It should be required reading for every health professional, particularly individuals in the field of public health.
Winston Dean
This book has been one of my favorites for many years.
Paula L. Craig

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book contains the memoirs Dr. Victor Heiser, international public health administrator for 30 years starting at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The book begins with a riveting account of how Heiser survived the Johnstown Flood by nimbly balancing on the walls of his barn as it swirled in the maelstrom after seeing his entire family swept under the waters in their home. Alone in the world following this disaster, Heiser decided to study medicine, but discovered upon graduation that he much preferred to prevent disease than cure it. He felt that he could do more for more people by fighting public health campaigns than by dealing with individual sick patients. He began his career as a military health inspector overseeing immigration halls at large ports, including Ellis Island. He later moved on to Europe, where he set up health inspection services so that would-be immigrants to the United States could be screened before setting sail from Europe. Following the Spanish American War, he was assigned as chief health officer of the new American colony in the Philippines. After serving almost ten years in the Philippines, he joined the international public health team of the Rockefeller Foundation, where he served as an itinerant medical expert and public health adviser for nearly twenty years.

During his tenure in the Philippines, Heiser worked hard to get cholera, typhoid, plague, smallpox, and leprosy under control. Politically, he was very much a man of his times, and his prose displays the typical racist attitudes of a senior colonial official. He could become very aggravated by what he considered the whimsical behavior of the Filipinos, and he often resorted to draconian measures to contain disease outbreaks.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paula L. Craig on August 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book has been one of my favorites for many years. I read it first in paperback, and after that fell apart I managed to find a used hardback copy. The book is the autobiography of Victor Heiser, M.D. The book starts with a bang with Heiser as a teenager surviving the Johnstown flood. (His parents were killed.) The rest of the book is mostly anecdotes taken from his medical career. Dr. Heiser is perhaps the ultimate example of the international public health doctor in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He spent much of his career as the U.S.'s Director of Health in the Philippines. Much of the book is organized by disease: he discusses smallpox, plague, cholera, leprosy, hookworm, etc. Heiser's main point is that health comes mostly from vaccination, clean water, good food, sanitation, and isolation of people sick with contagious diseases, not from expensive medical care.

Nearly every page of the book has a great story; you get the impression that Heiser must have been a fantastic dinner guest. Heiser's stories of vaccinating the uncivilized tribesmen of the Philippines are medical adventure at its best.

Towards the end of his career Heiser became a representative of the Rockefeller Foundation and spent his time traveling the world selling public health to the masses. The book bogs down a bit here; sometimes you wish Heiser would stop bragging about the number of times he's visited each country and tell more stories.

For the modern reader, Heiser's book is still surprisingly relevant, though maybe not in ways he intended. Heiser and other public health doctors are perhaps the persons most responsible for today's overpopulation of the earth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By pensil2pen on July 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to know anything about medicine to enjoy one of the most fascinating true-life stories that I have ever read. In his own words, Doctor Victor Heiser, shares story after story of fighting pandemics around the world in the years of approx. 1900 to 1920. It is amazing to read how it used to be in countries around the world before the world of medicine began to work together thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation, which he was a part of from the beginning (as described in the book). The stories are not only fascinating dealing with malaria, Cholera, leprosy and beyond but at times touching and other times hysterically funny! I still chuckle to think of him taking sick guinea pigs (in order to get a strain of "icterohemorrhagica "to the Rockefeller Institute in New York from Japan) across the ocean when a dead corpse in the wildly pitching ship's morgue landed on his shoulders as he was cutting out a mortally sick pig's liver! One wrong move and he would have the disease himself! I highly suggest this book if you love history, culture, medicine and just plain interesting stories of a day gone by.
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