From Publishers Weekly
This engrossing if overwritten account pays tribute to the unconventional heroes of the past century who have greatly enhanced human life expectancy. Monagan, a medical journalist, and Williams, head of interventional cardiology at Brown/Rhode Island Hospital, dedicate the bulk of their well-researched story to Andreas Gruentzig, an East German refugee who landed at Atlanta's Emory University in 1980 and whose balloon angioplasty breakthroughs have meant knifeless surgery for millions of patients. Another doctor who earlier changed the face of cardiovascular medicine was Nobel laureate and repentant former Nazi Werner Forssmann, an impetuous German who had performed death-defying experiments on himself in the 1920s, including threading a catheter into his heart—the first time the feat was ever performed on a human subject. An early specialist in pediatric cardiology in the Cleveland Clinic in the 1950s, Mason Sones pioneered fluoroscopic pinpoint mappings of the hidden recesses of the coronary arteries, paving the way for coronary bypass surgery. People suffering from—and surviving—cardiovascular disease may be curious to read about the advances that have saved their lives. (Feb. 1)
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If veteran science writer Monagan is out to prove that all medical drama doesn't take place in emergency rooms or hospital stairwells, he has done it. As he recounts the accomplishments of the twentieth century's innovators in cardiovascular medicine, he profiles a handful of players who stand out as personally and professionally remarkable, none more so than charismatic East German refugee Andreas Gruentzig, whose vision and improbable kitchen-table experiments attracted colleagues' ridicule, but whose invention, cardiovascular angioplasty, left him laughing all the way to the bank. His may have been and still may be the most dramatic breakthrough of his day, inspiring as it did a multibillion-dollar medical-device industry and eliminating the risk of open-heart surgery for many, but he stood on the shoulders of others, either predecessors or contemporaries grasping for and achieving the same outcome, triumph over heart disease. Today, thanks to Gruentzig and the likes of Werner Forssmann, Mason Sones, and Charles Dotter, millions are not only cheating death but enjoying longer, better lives. Donna ChavezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved