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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very important subject that is often overlooked, November 28, 2012
By 
Lee (CRESSKILL, NJ, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Major Medical Breakthroughs in the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
Many of the groundbreaking medical ideas of our century were discovered accidentally - and we don't even know about it!
This book shed light on this very important subject that is not just related to science, but can also affect the economy, politics, corporate, etc.

If we learn how to make the best out of our mistakes our life can transform!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How chance, unexpected results, and fortuitous discoveries have played a significant role in modern medical research, March 30, 2013
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This review is from: Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Major Medical Breakthroughs in the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
The author, a professor emeritus at a medical school, provides an interesting look at how significant modern medical discoveries have often been the result of accident and happenstance rather than systematic research. The author: (1) looks at a broad range of medical research subjects from the 1800s to the present; (2) points out how systematic research has not always been as successful as hoped; (3) provides many specific examples of how significant medical advances have been made as a result of chance, unexpected results, and fortuitous discoveries; and (4) gives some insight into how personality, temperament, personal motives, and human idiosyncracies have influenced medical research. In a concluding chapter, the author offers some suggestions and proposals for how medical research could be made more effective by taking into consideration the possibility that serendipity could be more helpful on occasion than systematic research.

The book provides an informative history of a technical subject that is written in a readable style accessible to the general public. Readers interested in this book may wish to consider also taking a look at F. Gonzalez-Crussi, A Short History of Medicine (Modern Library Chronicles),which does a very good job of showing the human side of medical history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great!, September 4, 2013
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really a fantastic book. read for a school project and so glad I choose it, I feel like my viewpoint on the miracle of scientific discovery has really been enlightened.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Accidents Can Be Happy, March 9, 2014
Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs – When Scientists Find What They’re NOT Looking For by Morton A. Meyers, M.D. is exactly what the title touts: many medical breakthroughs are a matter of being at the right place at the right time or as Louis Pasteur is quoted to have said, “In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.”

The book is chock full of stories of accidental discovery where scientists were looking for one thing and found another or were just poking around to see what shook out of the trees. The tales of discovery of the usual ones familiar to those of us Medical Historians: the discovery of penicillin, the discovery of Salvarsan 606 and others. I was amused to note that Dr Meyers didn’t mention that Viagara’s serendipitous discovery came about because during the test as a hypertension medication, male patients refused to hand over the unused samples. (It’s possible that this is an apocryphal story, still it’s a good one).

As long as Dr Meyer was relating the stories of discovery and serendipity, this was a decent book to read. In fact, despite my vast knowledge of medical history, even I was surprised by the events of Bari during World War II where an attack on the port caused mustard gas to be released. Subsequent treatment of the attack victims showed that mustard gas had depressed the body’s white cell, which led to the discovery of chemotherapy agents against leukemia and lymphoma.

However, when Dr Meyer became more contemplative, the book tended to go into the weeds. In fact, as I plodded through his introduction, I had to remind myself that this was a second read and if I hadn’t liked the book the first time, it would have been sitting on my shelf. In essence, I’d suggest skipping the introduction and the conclusion and just confine yourself to the meat. I normally don’t review the Notes section of a book, but in this case, there are some good background Notes. There are times I wish that the footnotes were placed at the bottom of the page so I didn’t have to hop back and forth between them.

I give this book a solid 3.5 though Goodreads doesn’t allow for half stars; there, I gave the book 4 stars there. It’s a good read, but stick to the tales of discovery, not the author’s pontifications.

Unlike previous books of late, this was a hardcover from my personal library as I am continuing my quest of re-reading books I’d read years ago so I can write reviews. Didn’t realize I was so close to finishing this book, otherwise, I would have picked out a book for the next read. So if you want to know what I’m currently reading, check out my Goodreads.
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Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Major Medical Breakthroughs in the Twentieth Century
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