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The Man Who Grew Two Breasts: And Other True Tales of Medical Detection Paperback – April 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (April 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452274109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452274105
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,996,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Devotees of the late Roueche's Annals of Medicine column in the New Yorker will be delighted to have this collection of seven original pieces and one reprint, even though the articles are neither uniformly engrossing nor as wondrous as the medical curiosities they explore. Some of the pieces dating from the '70s-one about the diagnosis of a 24-year-old woman's muscle problems as myasthenia gravis, for example-lack Roueche's signature tension that builds between the manifestation of a puzzling medical condition and its identification, which is perhaps why they remained unpublished during his lifetime. The more recent articles tend to be cautionary, such as one that tells of a 20-year-old Denver woman, a Jehovah's Witness who refused a blood transfusion and died from aplastic anemia caused by an oral tanning agent. And physical fitness adherents will be given pause by the 30-year-old New Yorker who was hospitalized with crippling pains in her right thigh brought on by an exercise machine, a condition her doctor dubbed "thigh thinners thecitis." The resolution of the title piece, about gynecomastia, an estrogen condition that develops men's breasts, will have older readers grinning.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When Roueche{‚}died last year, seven installments of his 50-year-old New Yorker feature, "Annals of Medicine," had not been put between book covers. Now they are. As usual with a Roueche{‚}medical piece, each concerns a patient with a mysterious complaint and a doctor who, through medical ratiocination, correctly identifies it and empirically brings it to resolution. Formally, then, each is a detective story, so much in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes case that we recall perforce that the Holmes tales were recorded by two physicians--the fictional Dr. Watson and the real Dr. Doyle. Though no doctor, Roueche{‚}shares Watson-Doyle's crystalline clarity and minimal fuss, as in these tales he presents the investigation of such conundrums as, besides the titular anomaly, a roomful of suddenly sick poker players and a little boy who's ill every week but always the picture of health when the doctor sees him. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Saroff on February 1, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Berton Roueche demands more from us than most scientific writers; this is not pure entertainment, it is something better. These 7 essays, first appearing in the New Yorker -- and the last essays of this great detecitive -- are more than worthile reading; they are like having a look in the private notebooks of a person with a tireless, seeking mind. This is a good read.
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The New Yorker used to publish long, long articles. These accounts all have something interesting about them, but they seem about twice as long as need be. It's possible to skim along, pick up the problem, then cut to the diagnosis and move on. The accounts are just too painstakingly slow to actually read through, like they are being told to a not very bright ten year old.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 1997
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately for Berton Roueche, the gripping narrative of Oliver Sachs set too high a standard for medical storytellers. After reading four or five of these stories, one can't help but wonder "where's the beef?". Not only are the stories themselves rather uninteresting (what's so outstanding about an organ player with a hand ailment?), but Roueche's writing style wipes out the feeble grip the book has on the reader. It doesn't flow; rarely do you find a sentence with more than one simple idea in it; and strangely enough, both he as the narrator and his QUOTED interviewees use exactly the same pizzicatto narrative... In short, rather uninteresting, plagued with ungripping writing and an unexpected amateurish style for such a seasoned author
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By CAROLE M. ROUECHE' on August 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
BERTON ROUECHE WORKS WERE THE BEST. HE GAVE THE AVERAGE MAN A EASY LOOK INTO MEDICINE. MAY HE REST IN PEACE.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Terra Caldwell on June 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I like House, MD and so I bought this book because I heard that a number of the House episodes were based on these mysteries. They are, but the House writers have changed the particulars to be more dramatic.

I understand that the author has quite a following and that these stories are pretty much cut-and-pasted from the New Yorker. I don't know the requirements of the editorial board at the New Yorker - perhaps they were ok with the way these are written. Basically, they sound a lot like the author took a recording device, tracked down doctors and patients, and taped what they said about their cases. Then, as it sounds, the author attached the recording device to an automatic transcription machine, added a few bits of background and some exposition, and sent them to be published. Most of the paragraphs in the book begin with quotation marks and the language isn't even cleaned up for relevance - there's one section, for instance, where a doctor goes off on a tangent about how Halifax used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. No relevance to the story, and the editors should have clipped that paragraph. Some of the stories are better-written than others in that some actually contain story, whereas some are simply transcription.

The author is also apparently very old-fashioned. He uses the male pronoun exclusively and introduces women in this fashion: "A woman I'll call Mildred Anderson - Mrs. Harold Anderson ..." which we don't use any more. All women's names are proceeded by a title of some form (like 'Miss Sullivan'). If you are familiar with AP style (what newspapers use) or any other specific editorial style commonly in use today then the archaic construction will seem odd and jarring.
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