From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The brothers Amidon refer to their book as a "biography of this remarkable machine" and it's a fitting description for such a tidy volume. Chapters begin with entertaining and illustrative historical tales, before reviewing the roles that people have assigned to the heart, as a metaphor for what is "most essential in a human being" and the place "in which Jesus Christ dwelled" (from 399 BCE, an era that also looked heavenward to explain the myocardial infarction). The authors liberally sprinkle their effort with charm and literary allusions, to The Scarlet Letter, Measure for Measure, (where love is "a sort of cardiac shock") and other texts. In fact, The Sublime Engine is that rare book: so entertaining that its ability to educate seems effortless. The authors turn the heart into a beloved friend for whom we should care desperately; readers may in fact be more inspired to "start jogging and eat fewer cheeseburgers" by Amidon (author of Human Capital) and Amidon (a practicing cardiologist) than by their own GP, which makes a final tale of two very different men who suffer heart attacks, and the disparity of care that they receive, even more, yes, heartbreaking. (Feb.)
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As the body�s main power source and traditionally presumed seat of emotions, the human heart has inspired more natural philosophy and literature than any other organ. The brothers and coauthors Amidon, one a novelist, the other a cardiologist, call their unusual collaboration a biography because it presents a multifaceted picture of the heart�s influences on mythology, science, and popular culture through the ages. In six lyrically written chapters, they trace humanity�s perennial fascination with the heart through the eyes of history�s greatest artists and medical explorers, beginning with the Greeks and fancifully ending with a peek into the future of cardiological innovation. Particularly attention-grabbing are the stories of groundbreaking researchers, such as Sir William Harvey, who discovered the circulatory system, and German internist Werner Forssmann, who proved the value of catheterization by inserting a tube in his own heart. The only shortcoming of this fascinating and engaging survey is the Amidons� admitted neglect of the Asian perspective, but the end result should appeal to both poets and physicians. --Carl Hays