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Doctors: The Biography of Medicine Paperback – January 15, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679760091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679760092
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

To tell the story of medicine since Hippocrates and Galen, Nuland focuses on the personalities and careers of medical innovators since the 16th century who epitomized the scientific climate and culture of their period. PW called this an "enthusiatic and anecdote-rich narrative."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

An historical outline develops as Nuland (Yale School of Medicine) examines the biographies of significant doctors engaged in the art and science of medicine. He considers philosophical and ethical issues fundamental to medicine's evolution, from antecedents of the Hippocratic oath to transplant technology. More than a biographical historiography, his book reaffirms the art of doctor-patient reltionships, while underscoring technical advances in science. Sir William Osler's observation that history is the "silent influence of character on character" best summarizes the essence of this outstanding book. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Mary Hemmings, McGill Univ. Medical Lib., Montreal
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sherwin B. Nuland is Clinical Professor of Surgery at Yale University School of Medicine and a Fellow at Yale's Institute for Social and Policy Studies. He is the author of over ten books, including the National Book Award-winning, HOW WE DIE: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, an inquiry into the causes and modes of death that spent 34 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. In addition he is a contributor to leading publications including the New Yorker, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books.

Customer Reviews

Thoughtful, well researched, wonderfully written.
Spili2
In this book Nuland takes the reader on an odyssey of western medical history spanning antiquity to modern medicine.
Amazon Customer
Anyone interested in pursuing a career in medicine should read this book.
hectorjuan@medscapemail.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Nuland's works are like pop-up books for adults. First, he gives you the big picture, an overview. Then, he focuses in on his subject and then -- POP! -- your reward, in the form of tasty tidbits of consistently obscure and delightful information.
This book, Doctors, is no exception. Throughout the book, you're learning without even realizing it, and at the same time, gaining historical and philosophical insight into the progress of medicine through the ages. From ancient Greece to the modern halls of medicine, Nuland will take you along through a Disneyland of exploration.
From his writing, it's easy to tell that even after a prestigious career, he's still as excited by medicine -- and as awed by its great practitioners -- as he was on his very first day of pre-med.
Nuland's prose IS a challenge; he usually assumes some prior knowledge on the part of readers, and a university and science background are helpful. If you've got that, though, then hop aboard for the ride of your life. I guarantee you, you'll never look at an emergency room the same way again.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1996
Format: Paperback
I have used this as the assigned text in courses in the history of medicine, both for udergraduate and for medical students. The book is an unabashed example of the iatrocentric school of medical history -- one long series of great doctors, but that certainly captures the imagination of the wannabe doctor. This is simply the best introductory book on this subject, both for the serious student, and for the interested person with or without a medical background. Paul G. Dyment MD, Tulane University, New Orleans
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In this book Nuland takes the reader on an odyssey of western medical history spanning antiquity to modern medicine. It takes brief snapshots of a few of the physicians who have molded medicine into what it is today. He vividly brings to life colorful people like Vesalius who refused to accept the status quo of his time, but instead rejected popular theories because they did not agree with experimental results.
This is an inspirational must read for those who are either in the field of medicine or enjoy medical history.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Ward VINE VOICE on July 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I teach the history of medicine and anatomy at a U.S. medical school and I spend a lot of time reviewing the available books so that I can sharpen up my lectures. I'm not going to claim that medical history is the most electrifying topic for first-year medical students, but when it is presented properly it can be very engaging. This is exactly what Dr. Nuland has done with this book.

Doctors is a well-organized and readable text and Dr. Nuland has done a great deal of research but more importantly, he has obviously practiced how to deliver the stories in a way that is suspenseful and satisfying. He starts chronologically and moves from Hippocrates, through Andreas Vesalius, William Harvey, Rudolph Virchow, Helen Taussig, describing the individuals responsible for the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of the history of medical practice as we see it today.

His narrative relates strictly to the history of Western medicine and the influences that have shaped it. He does not go into any details regarding Eastern medicine or other medical practices since this is not directly related to the main theme of the book. The only topic I wish he had spent more time covering was the Islamic physicians of the middle ages. Western medicine (along with all the sciences) were maintained at a high level in the Muslim societies of the middle ages before passing into the newly-founded European Universities.

By following the history of medicine through the persons (and extreme personalities) that influenced it, Dr. Nuland is able to educate and entertain. I have listened repeatedly to the lectures that he has produced with the Teaching Company and it is nice to know that he writes as well as he speaks. I have reviewed other books on the topic but so far this is my undisputed favorite.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Russell Yates on September 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am only 15, and not very smart, but even I thought this book was quite informative. It has always been my dream to be a doctor, and this book helped me better understand the history of it. I had no clue that medicine had such a diverse background. I recommend this book to anyone who has such an interest, and who is not afraid to read a book that I must admit is a tad boring on some notes, but is overall good stuff!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 21, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very well written book especially if the sciences, history or medicine is not your strong suite. Mr. Nuland took a potentially boring subject (what history subject isn't?) and has made it very interesting to read.
I like math, but in school and college, I never did well with subjects that related to history and especially with science. I don't even read that much. However, I could not put this book down. I liked it so much, I have read it 3 times. It is a very enriching book. Thanks Mr. Nuland for restoring my confidence in being able to comprehend subjects that deal with medicine and history! My wish list is for Mr. Nuland to put this out on audio cassette.
Thomas Jue
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By DrMojo on October 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is well written and researched, yet lacks the fundamental contrition that should accompany a visitation of the rather sordid and bloody history of western medicine. Case in point is Nuland's take on Ignaz Semmelveiss, who proved that it was doctors themselves who were responsible for the epidemic of childbed fever in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Semmelveiss' discovery was met with abject resistance and hostility from his peers, who clearly feared the culpability that would accompany the acknowledgement of such a massive and ghastly error. Instead of being hailed as a hero of Europe and of medicine, he was rewarded instead by being fired from his job, virtually exiled, and committed to a mental asylum where he was beaten to death within two weeks. Nuland, however, assumes the audacious position that the failure to adopt Semmelveiss' protocols (washing hands between examining corpses and pregnant patients!)was with Semmelveiss himself- that he was too pushy or maniacal in his insistence that doctors were killing patients. He blames Semmelveiss for not couching his discovery in a way that was more palatable to his contemporaries. He even goes so far as to suggest-by his own admission without hard evidence- that Semmelveiss was suffering from some mysterious organic brain disease. How such a diseased brain could solve the medical puzzle that eluded the greatest minds of his generation is a question the author avoids posing. The history of medicine is not merely the intellectual progression of science and healing- it also contains cautionary tales such as Semmelveiss' which speak of the dangers of a profession becoming entrenched in its own dogma and jealous of its cultural status.Read more ›
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