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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story from the 30s is still a Great Read
I picked up this book because it was mentioned in my great-grandmother's diary from 1941. Written in the 30s, it tells the tale of a young Scottish doctor in the 20s, as he goes from a small-town doctor in a rough situation to a well-paid London doctor with a fancy office.
The story's written with intelligence, as the doctor ponders various ways to deal with the...
Published on August 3, 2002 by Lisa Shea

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3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and illogical
I really enjoyed reading only first part (out of four) of the book. The atmosphere of a small town in the mountains most inhabitants of which are miner families is depicted successfully by Cronin. Young Andrew Manson is introduced as a person from the real world having his own identity, not conforming to common stereotypes (at least not to such a degree).
But as the...
Published on September 14, 2003 by Snake Fang


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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story from the 30s is still a Great Read, August 3, 2002
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This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
I picked up this book because it was mentioned in my great-grandmother's diary from 1941. Written in the 30s, it tells the tale of a young Scottish doctor in the 20s, as he goes from a small-town doctor in a rough situation to a well-paid London doctor with a fancy office.
The story's written with intelligence, as the doctor ponders various ways to deal with the bureaucracy he faces. He deals with incompetent doctors, old doctors that have no desire to learn new treatments, young doctors more concerned with money and prestige than patient care.
And, as he gets absorbed into the system, the doctor begins to be lured in by the money. He starts to prescribe the 'easy' solution to patients, even if it's not the right answer, so that they're happy and he gets more cash. He does finally realize, in the end, that working for the patients is more important than gaining lots of cash, but only after some hard lessons.
I have a few small complaints with the story. One is that the wife could have been a really interesting character, but she's a little flat. She is sad when he becomes money-hungry, and draws back, but that's it. She was a schoolteacher when he met her, and it's made clear that she's very intelligent. But still she just sort of goes along with him, making his meals, wishing things could be better, but far be it for her to actually help out. She tries to get his friends to see him one night to bring back his old ways, but when that fails, "ah well".
My other complaint is that he slides far too easy from a passionate patient-first attitude into a "cash is nice" mentality. But that was necessary for the plot to progress.
Definitely a great book to read to learn about life in the 20s to 40s, from the small towns of Wales to the busy streets of London. Interesting details about the damage that mines caused to the lungs of the mineworkers, and the ways that doctors worked with each other and treated their patients. A great read!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing him back to Blaenelly Standrds, December 25, 2004
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
Set in the 20's and 30's of Britain, this fascinating novel

recounts the evolution of a young Scottish doctor embarking upon his career. We follow his struggles from the mines of Wales to posh London and beyond. Committed to helping mankind, hard working though of modest means, Andrew Manson arrives fresh out of medical school--with all the enthusiasm and idealism of youth. Eager to dedicate himself to improving the lives of his rustic patients, Andrew dedicates many hours to private study in his chosen field of lung disease.

But young Andrew is buffeted by fate for many years; although lucky in his choice of a life partner (school teacher Christine Barlow), he encounters opposition at every turn--from his employers, institutions, quacks and busybodies. Each move promises to be an upgrade, but he is rarely permitted to enjoy the change for long. He does meet a few decent young men in his travels, but he gradually chafes under the system which perpetuates greed and ignorance-the medical establishment in general, to which Cronin refers as the Citadel. Only a fool-hardy person would seek to attack such a mighty establishment, for the GMC can always strike a doctor off for misconduct-real or perceived.

Cronin's style is highly readable, with much dialogue and interesting plotting. In fact he offers teaser sentences of woe as unexpected foreshadowing in the last paragraph of chapters which seem to end well. We witness the erosion of Andrew's ideals as he falls victim to the wealthy lifestyle of London's West End milieu. But the more he gains in the eyes of the world, the less he cherishes his faithful, patient wife. Chris struggles in her own private torment, desperately seeking to ally him with old and true friends, who might bring him back to the standards of their early marriage, when they were poor but very happy. Which path will the would-be medical reformer ultimately choose? Will the Citadel shut him out or crush his humanity at the end? A wonderful, timeless classic.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally absorbing human drama, March 28, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
I was typing up descriptions of books I bought in a box lot to sell and decided this one was in just too poor condition to sell, but it was medical, which always interests me, so I decided I should read it first before throwing it out (it's literally falling apart), AND BOY, AM I GLAD I DID! I found it totally absorbing, but surprisingly not so much from the medical aspect as from the simple human drama aspect. The cover emphasizes its focus on the corrupt medical system it describes, but to me it was more about a man losing himself in the pursuit of money & prestige, and having a crisis brought on by the death of a patient, that turns him back around, back to the idealistic doctor we liked in the beginning of the book.
There were numerous British words I didn't know what they referred to, but I found I was able to just skip over them & keep reading without losing the essence of the plot or the sense of timing/tension/drama that kept bringing me back to read more.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why should good men suffer while evil men prosper?, May 22, 2006
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This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
I am a premedical student completeing my 3rd year of college. I read this book because it was recommended to me as one of those books that aspiring doctors should read before entering the profession.

The story is a chronological account of Manson's life from his graduation from college, through his professional life as a physician in 1920's-1930's England. The book sketches Manson's change from his schoolboy idealism to cynical medical profiteer and his final return to the high ethical and medical standards with which he begun his medical career.

Throughout the book, the reader will consistently encounter two major themes. First is the resistance of the highly conservative medical establishment of the 1920's England to any sort of change illuminated by the advancement of science. Manson again and again butts heads with his fellow doctors, patients and medical societies when he uses "unorthodox" treatments that actually deliver clinical results as oppose to the cod liver oil and patented concoctions that deliver no results except to line the wallets of greedy doctors.

The second theme is the dishonesty of many in the medical establishment. By pandering to rich patients, by telling people what they want to hear, by sucking up to social elites while ignoring those in actual plight, a dishonest doctor stands to profit immensely. On the other hand, an honest doctor who delivers the sad, untolerable, but ultimately true diagnosis is shunned as a quack. Witness the rich middle class wives who are nothing but hypochondriacs mooning over charlatans promising them cures with their patented cures that are nothing but colored water. Then compare that to their shock and abhorence at Dr. Manson's abrasive but true diagnosis that the only thing wrong with them is their fat, lazy, sedamentary lives.

Being a reader or a patient it might be easy to to criticize Dr. Manson for his fall into the ranks of such evil men. However, unless one has suffered through the insanely long, difficult and expensive process of being a doctor, one cannot truly understand the frustration that Manson felt seeing less qualified colleagues who pander to patients drive in luxury automobils while he himself have barely bread to eat.

Although much has changed for the better since this book was written by A.J. Cronin in the 1930's, the reader is reminded that the same evils that existed back then exist now today. Flashy, expensive treatments pander to those diseases like aging skin and sagging [...] will ultimately have their patrons. Yet if the reader has learned anything from this book, its that the gruffy advice he gets from his physician who recommends nothing but an asprin and a good nights rest may be the least thing he wanted to hear, but will be the best and most honest advice.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it., September 19, 2000
By 
"hamletlacy" (Smyrna, GA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
"Be careful what you wish for because you just might getit" could express the moral of Cronin's THE CITADEL. I first read THE CITADEL in December of 1984. Then I read some of Cronin's other books.... They are all well written stories with deep moral purpose. They would be worth reading if you like THE CITADEL. But THE CITADEL is a special book. Its 5 star ranking is deserved. You don't have to be an aspiring physician to be attracted to its story or to recognize its universal theme. It's one of those quiet books that should be required reading.... END
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old fashioned good story with a moral, November 15, 1998
By 
Rick Hunter (Malone, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
A.J. Cronin's recently reprinted 1937 novel The Citadel is an old fashioned good story with a moral about falling into and being redeeming from the sin of avarice. Andrew Manson is a young doctor who starts this novel as an assistant to a disabled physician in a Welsh mining town. Although his boss -- really his boss' domineering and greedy wife -- make sure that he earns next to nothing despite doing all of the work of the practice, Andrew learns the joy of healing and discovers the challenges of scientific medicine. While there, he also meets his wife, Christine, who in many ways is his better self. Andrew's idealism -- or bullheadedness -- causes him to move from this position to the next, at the same time acquiring impressive credentials, including a MD degree for his thesis studying the effects of silica dust on miners. Then he becomes seduced by money and prestige, buying a down-and-out London practice, becoming a "pill-pusher" to pay the rent, acquiring a few "society" patients, and at last practicing in the manner best suit to maximize income, rather than care for patients.
The crisis, when it comes, involves the tubercular daughter of a good friend, whom Andrew refers to a non-physician for experimental (and successful) treatment. Andrew very nearly loses his license to practice, but in the process rediscovers what excites him about medicine. I will not spoil the ending by recounting here what happens to Andrew and Chris; suffice to say that this is both a good and noble read, worthy of many reprintings and readings at the century's end.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars idealism, corruption and redemption, April 23, 2001
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
this is a very well written book about a young doctor who fights for his ideals, succumbs to the material world and eventually after much suffering finds again his old ideals. The landscape and people are described in a realistic and poetical vein. One notices that the author is describing something he knows well. The book is kind of autobiographical.
Sometimes "The Citadel" in its preaching of high ideals looks dated. But the 30s were the time for ideologies, time that lasted, one could say, till the seventies. Though the book is somewhat predictable, it is great reading. It's really a moving story. It's better written than most of the books written nowadays when most of the writers seem to have forgotten how to tell a good story. Maybe if Cronin were a little less sentimental, this book would be one of the masterpieces of the XXth century, but on account of the powerful writing I give this book 4 stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, November 18, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
An excellent read. I couldn't put down this book about the life of a young Scottish doctor right out of medical school. The book is punctuated by lots of heartwarming moments, but the author also gives us some thoughts on the ethics behind the medical profession. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine novelistic treatment of British medicine during the 1930s, April 22, 2007
By 
Anson Cassel Mills (Lake Santeetlah, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
This nicely written novel by A.J. Cronin (1896-1981) is an excellent entrée into the world of British medicine in the 1920s and `30s, a world in which a character in his 50s can be described as "elderly," and in which doctors specializing in lung diseases are regularly portrayed cigarette in hand. Cronin was himself a Scottish doctor who practiced in South Wales after World War I and who, like his protagonist Andrew Manson, investigated lung diseases of miners. Much of the impressive characterization and physical description in this book has the ring of personal observation.

With considerable narrative skill, Cronin tells the familiar story of gaining the world but losing one's soul. The characters and development are mostly believable, although Mason's sudden reconversion from materialism to idealism takes a bit more willing suspension of disbelief than I'm used to providing novelists. Cronin, although not profound, introduces a number of clever touches, such as having Manson, at his materialistic nadir, excoriate his wife for reading the Gospel of Luke--St. Paul's "beloved physician."
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Idealism vs. materialism in a beautiful and emotional story, August 9, 2004
This review is from: The Citadel (Paperback)
Beautiful biographical fiction of a young doctor's struggle and his journey towards professional opportunity, social acceptance, and moral regression, culminating in dreadful loss and the promise of redemption. I was completely taken in by the fast-paced narrative, and spent the last 100 pages in a wild daze - alternately pleased, frustrated, happy, and angry. I felt like a complete wreck when Cronin finished his somber but faintly uplifting last chapter, findingly suddenly that there was nothing more to read about Andrew and his Christine. The book with its protagonist struggling with few crazy friends against professional mediocrity and ethical failures, closely resembles Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith. Connections can also be made to Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, though there was one major distinction between Cronin's struggling doctor and Rand's struggling architect, which is that the doctor was fallible and human while the architect was Ayn Rand's portrait of the ideal man. I kept hoping that Christine would pick up the gauntlet when Andrew's high ethical standards began to slide, but she didn't. Even so, her spirit haunts the book even when she is absent from the narrative, like the strange ghost of a person who is horribly missed. Andrew gives the book its promised idealism, Christine gives it emotion.
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The Citadel
The Citadel by Archibald Joseph Cronin (Paperback - November 30, 1983)
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