Customer Reviews: Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World, Portable Documents (FT Press Science)
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VINE VOICEon December 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Perhaps the book could be a little better organized. It reads like a textbook, with the ten chapters further divided into "milestones," ranging from five to ten per chapter. A straight narrative approach might have been more effective. There's also a significant amount of what seems to me to be needless repetition.

But, after having said all of that, the book still works for me. Based on my limited knowledge of the history of medicine, I have long believed that before about 1800, one was usually better off just letting a disease run its course rather than risk the hazards of seeing the typical physician. Doctors would often cause more harm than good with their "cures": bleeding, induced vomiting, and noxious laxatives. Doctors would themselves spread deadly infections with their dirty hands. There are plenty of fascinating anecdotes in Jon Queijo's book that chronicle this generally backwards state of medicine before the nineteenth century.

There are also highly readable descriptions of big medical "breakthroughs," such as Hippocrates and his separation of medicine from myth and superstition, Wilhelm Roentgen's work with X-rays, Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccination, and Gregor Mendel's pioneer studies of genetics.

I feel this book would be best for readers (like me) who have a limited knowledge of the subject. It would probably not do much for an expert in the field. However, Appendix B contains an extensive bibliography that could help the serious scholar.

As far as the concerns expressed by some reviewers about the inclusion of Chapter 10 on alternative medicine, I feel this chapter fits in well with the book's general theme: anything that helps people recover is "good," no matter what established interests may claim. And Queijo stresses that for centuries established interests bitterly mocked and condemned new medical discoveries that would eventually save countless lives. Many people have reported benefiting from alternative techniques. It seems to me that an open, pragmatic mindset should govern an analysis of alternative medicine. This is the basic thesis of Queijo's Chapter 10.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Have you ever stopped to wonder with all the microorganisms that are creepy-crawling out there how the human race has ever survived? It is truly remarkable all of the medical technological advances that have taken place over the years to keep mankind from going the way of the dinosaurs and this book goes through ten of the most incredible "discoveries" that have kept us healthy in the midst of potential catastrophe. Whether people recognize it or not, the BREAKTHROUGH that happens when a major disease is conquered is a huge win for future generations who will never know what life was like living with that. Think about it this way--if scientists ever find a cure for diabetes, cancer, or AIDS, then kids growing up in the next generation won't have to worry about something that plagues modern-day society ever again. I don't know about you, but that sends chills up and down my spine.

But as author Jon Queijo points out in his book, that's already happened with some of the greatest discoveries in medicine that has literally saved millions and changed our view of the world. He details those in this book, including the compelling stories behind how modern medicine was founded, the importance of sanitation unveiled, realizing there are germs, the invention of anesthesia, x-rays, vaccines, antibiotics, DNA, psychosomatic drugs, and most recently, alternative medicine. This book is a real page-turner as you get the back story behind some of the most amazing medical stories in the history of the world. And don't you dare miss the lessons the author shares in the epilogue to encourage even more BREAKTHROUGH moments to happen in the future. If we don't learn from history, then we're bound to repeat it!
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VINE VOICEon January 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is a rare treat to find a book with an intriguing subject, an engrossing writer, and a well researched topic. In Breakthrough, we have all three, and thus this book rates very high with me.

Queijo has taken the task of compiling the top ten medical breakthroughs in history, and has done so with an exceptional level of investigation and historical perspective. When one reflects on all the marvels we now take for granted in the 21st century, the developments in medicine could easily rank among the most prodigious. Queijo is an excellent guide, often pulling together segments of progress spread over generations to establish concrete developments in medicine. He clearly illustrates the significant impact each breakthrough has provided to humanity.

The mere fact that this book is so thorough and lucid will leave you with both a very complete understanding of the remarkable history of medicine as well as a significant appreciation for its impact and progress. You won't need to agree with his selections nor have a scientific background to fully enjoy Queijo's work, and thus I highly recommend this book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Author Queijo has collected a vast amount of information about the scientific discoveries that preceded, or were loosely connected to, important changes in medicine (the "breakthroughs"). The ten major chapters address the discovery of medicine itself (Hippocrates), sanitation, germs, anesthesia, X-rays, vaccines, antibiotics, heredity and genetics, drugs for treating mental illness, and alternative medicine.

All are interesting topics, and Queijo writes reasonably well. But the presentation of the book is very strange. Each chapter includes (1) general discussion about the topic; (2) lengthy factoids, anecdotal stories about strange cases, or speculative musings by the author, all printed in italics; and (3) bold-face, PowerPoint-like subtopics (with discussion) called "Milestones".

The "Milestones" are puzzling, to say the least. First, the subtopic titles don't identify what each "Milestone" actually is. For example, in the chapter on the discovery of X-rays, "Milestone #2" is "A one-year firestorm and those 'naughty, naughty' rays". Second, the discussion of each "Milestone" often does not discuss a "milestone" as the word is generally defined (i.e., a significant event or stage in the development of something). In the X-ray chapter example, "Milestone #2" talks about the reaction of the public and the scientific community, as reported in newspapers and research papers, to the sensational, astounding discovery of rays that can "peek" under clothing and photograph the interior of the human body and other objects. Perhaps a year of media attention can be seen as a "stage" in the history of X-rays, but it hardly is significant enough to deserve a "milestone" label. All important discoveries gain a lot of media attention.

What the "Milestone" presentation does, is allow the author to find a place in his book, somewhere, for every single medical fact or anecdote that he has uncovered and found to be interesting. To this author, absolutely everything is interesting, no matter how marginally related it is to the topic that is supposedly under discussion. This lack of selectiveness seriously detracts from the educational and entertainment value of the book. Reading it, I was constantly reminded of the old PBS show, "Connections", which unabashedly presented a lightning-fast series of anecdotes about discoveries that had led to other discoveries in other fields that were almost totally unrelated to the field of the original discovery.

Although I generally enjoy reading books that popularize the history of science, I found this one confusing and unsatisfying. For that reason, I rate it at 2 stars, even though the collection of medical history facts and anecdotes and the extensive bibliography are impressive.
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VINE VOICEon March 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Jon Queijo writes about the "breakthroughs of medicine" that probably saved you or your loved ones' life at some point--when you consider the breakthroughs include everything from Hippocrates to alternative medicines.

I found the parts on germ theory and sanitation especially interesting. It is said that President James Garfield did not die as a result of the assassination attempt but by the doctors constantly probing (with dirty instruments as well as their dirty hands) the wound to try to find the bullet. I'm sure the doctors wouldn't have looked at that way, but they also didn't seem to feel the need to wash up between patients, thus spreading disease and infection.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis discovered this fact during his time spent in a maternity ward. He studied two maternity wards. One maternity ward had all babies delivered by physicians. In the other maternity ward, all babies were delivered by midwives. The maternity ward where the physicians worked had 3 to 5 times the amount of maternal death of the midwives' maternity ward. And women that delivered at home were unlikely to contract childbed fever. It took the death of his friend, Professor Kolletschka, for Dr. Semmelweis to realize the higher incidence of childbed fever in the doctor-delivered maternity ward was caused by the doctors actually introducing the infection into the woman's body. He had the doctors start using a chlorine solution to wash their hands after they had examined a cadaver and before they examined pregnant women. This made the doctor-delivered maternity ward's death rate to become lower than the midwives' delivery facility.

Many people have problems with the last chapter, which deals with alternative medicine. I don't see why it should be considered a "breakthrough" because alternative medicine has been around for many years. This chapter does not seem to be as well researched as the previous nine chapters. It may be because there has not been a wealth of research on alternative medicine. I didn't have a problem with this chapter as I have used alternative medical treatments in my life and have received benefits from them. I would have liked to see a little more documentation to back up the claims.I would have given the book five stars, but the last chapter was not as good as the previous nine chapters.

The book is well written and researched (except perhaps chapter ten). You don't need to have a medical dictionary at your side to understand and enjoy this book, which is a major plus. It's a quick read. I would recommend it to anyone wishing to know more about medical breakthroughs.
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VINE VOICEon October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love reading articles about science and medicine, especially medical history, so I was excited to read "Breakthrough!: How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World." I am definitely not an expert, and this book is extremely readable for the scientific layperson. It's broken into sections (each great 'discovery') and within each of those there are several sub-sections; the organization of the book reminds me of a timeline, which I really enjoyed/appreciated. It's not a piece of nonfiction that you have to read start to finish, in order; you can jump around and read everything in whatever order you want. A great book to have by the bed or in the bathroom.
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on August 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It seems that all great discoveries (medical and otherwise), have a story behind them which reveals the discovery to be part hard work, part inspiration, and part luck. This is the story of ten medical discoveries, and the stories of their discovery. Queijo provides the backstories for X-rays, sanitation, penicillin, genetics, vaccines, and of course, the discovery of medicine itself. Each chapter discusses the life saving effects of the discovery, and tells of it's emergence. While the book is well written and the narrative holds together very well, the chapters are divided into somewhat disparate milestones, each of which tells of another step forward until the final culmination of the medical breakthrough. I would have personally preferred a contiguous narrative, but that is personal preference, the book holds together very well, and is very enjoyable.
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on December 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a great bedside chapter-a-night book about the stories of medicine. The research is thorough and convincing, and it is a fun read. I work in the medical field and it is so interesting to see a broader view than what we know is "true" at this point in time.
I thought that the chapter on alternative medicines was going to be tossing a bone, and was surprised by the lack of pixie dust. (I won't spoil it by telling you why.)
Read this book!
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on October 20, 2010
I am a layman when it comes to science and medicine. That is why I thoroughly enjoyed and was informed by this book. It speaks of important medical history in language and style that a person like me can understand. It may be too simplistic for those in the field, and some reviewers think it wrong that he included a chapter on alternative medicine, which may be threatening to some, but I don't know how a serious author could just ignore the topic. It was an interesting and enlightening book.
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on December 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although parts of this book are interesting, as a volume it doesn't measure up as a scholarly work of the history of medicine. The inclusion of the curious choice of "alternative medicine" as one of the 10 greatest discoveries in medicine suggests intention was more of a propaganda piece to elevate alternative medicine. There are better works out there with less bias. My recommendation is to pass on this one.
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