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Letters to a Young Doctor (Harvest Book) Reprint Edition

12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156003995
ISBN-10: 0156003996
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Selzer is a former surgeon and Yale School of Medicine professor. He has received many awards for his writing, including a National Magazine Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Guggenheim fellowship. He is the author of several collections of stories and essays as well as a memoir. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156003996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156003995
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By atmj TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Having read Doctor's stories first, I was prepared for Richard Selzer's excellent writing. This book must be the origin of some of the stories that wound up in Doctor Stories (Imelda, Impostor, Chatterbox)
Unlike Doctor Stories which have a wider range of stories, this book except for a couple of sidelines is about the craft of the Doctor, in and out of the Operating room and Hospital. Also, the doctor's perspective on the outside world. However, I wonder how many other doctors have his sense of service. Some of us can't imagine a high-priced surgeon performing the service he does in "Toe nails" one of the stories within.
Richard Selzer writing is poetic in his description of a doctor's musings on the Art of Surgery, the halls of the hospitals and the feel of working inside the human body. In many sense his reflections on his relationships with the tools he uses could the same a mechanic, a draftsman (of the 50s-80s), or the artist feels about the tools they use to perform their craft.
He finds beauty in the minute details of life and has the gift to write about them. I also have his book "Mortal Lessons" that I hope to read soon as well. His books are addicting in the sense that you too also begin, if you don't already, to see the details of your own work and the relationships you have with the world around you. Either I think similarly or his thought process is universal, but he captures the magic of living and the impressions we all have at time. Even if you are not a doctor (and I'm not), you will find a sense of familiarity in his writing.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By David Graham on May 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Under the old ranking system, I would give this book a seven on a ten point scale. As a fellow surgeon who enjoys Selzer's writings, I thought this was a good, yet not great collection of ruminations. Some of the chapters were quite touching, some were funny, and some were quite plain. A few actually suffered from Selzer's exuberant imagination as he tried to stuff meaning and metaphor into patients' stories that didn't fit. Taking it all together, I'm glad I bought it, but I liked his book Mortal Lessons much better.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By on January 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Richard Selzer prepares those with an interest in surgery, specifically medical hopefuls, for the science of medicine through personal experiences that are shared with the reader in Letters to a Young Doctor. He shows that surgery, or being a doctor on a whole can have its days of redemption and it's times of tragedy. Selzer uses emotions to create an emotional bond between the reader, the writer, and the patients. Personal testimony of specific examples, tied in with metaphors, comparisons, and imagery, prepare the reader for what he/she must face in the future as a particepent in the field of medicine. The book is organized into 23 different stories and experiences used by Selzer to prepare medical students with what they will encounter as doctors/surgeons. This also includes 5 letters written specifically to the students of surgery in first person viewpoint. These divided sections of the book hold the same ideas, but are presented in different a manner each. One part might discuss the impact being a doctor may have on society. Another might focus on the aspects in specific, such as the respect one must hold for the tools used in surgery. But all these parts create a whole idea, that being a doctor has its success by in accompanied by the horrors. And this prepares medical students for the life of a surgeon. That is the beauty of Selzer's work. In preparing the young medical world for the future of which they wish to experience as doctors, Richard Selzer pushes the dismay and prosperity of surgery and being a doctor, a healer, into the light. He shares through personal experiences the emotions felt day to day. Selzer uses comparisons to support the specific examples and imagery to support the comparisons. He is thorough in his work and leaves an impression on his audience, the medical hopefuls of the world. The impact he has creates an effect that, in turn, touches everyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Selzer is an amazing writer. His style and flow of language took a little getting used to as first, but once the reader is acquainted with his writing style, the book literally sucks your mind in. I could not put it down. Selzer is honest and very frank about the practice of surgery. His book exemplifies the pride, the sensitivity, and the directness of surgeons. Here, surgeons are human beings, not merely fixing machines. I will always view surgeons in a different light after reading this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ryan D. Westbrook on December 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm presently working my way through PA school, and this book has a ring to it I can't seem to keep out of my ears. Each new situation or patient I'm with brings back the words Selzer uses to present his stories. I'd strongly recommend it as a gift to those in MD or PA school--besides being outstanding writing, its fun to see the many ways medicine has changed, coupled with the countless ways it remains the same. Read especially "A Pint of Blood" matter how many times I read it, it still has me laughing.
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