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An American Doctor's Odyssey: Adventures in Forty-Five Countries Hardcover – Black & White, August, 1936

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (August 1936)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393073319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393073317
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,627,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Paula L. Craig on August 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book has been one of my favorites for many years. I read it first in paperback, and after that fell apart I managed to find a used hardback copy. The book is the autobiography of Victor Heiser, M.D. The book starts with a bang with Heiser as a teenager surviving the Johnstown flood. (His parents were killed.) The rest of the book is mostly anecdotes taken from his medical career. Dr. Heiser is perhaps the ultimate example of the international public health doctor in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He spent much of his career as the U.S.'s Director of Health in the Philippines. Much of the book is organized by disease: he discusses smallpox, plague, cholera, leprosy, hookworm, etc. Heiser's main point is that health comes mostly from vaccination, clean water, good food, sanitation, and isolation of people sick with contagious diseases, not from expensive medical care.

Nearly every page of the book has a great story; you get the impression that Heiser must have been a fantastic dinner guest. Heiser's stories of vaccinating the uncivilized tribesmen of the Philippines are medical adventure at its best.

Towards the end of his career Heiser became a representative of the Rockefeller Foundation and spent his time traveling the world selling public health to the masses. The book bogs down a bit here; sometimes you wish Heiser would stop bragging about the number of times he's visited each country and tell more stories.

For the modern reader, Heiser's book is still surprisingly relevant, though maybe not in ways he intended. Heiser and other public health doctors are perhaps the persons most responsible for today's overpopulation of the earth.
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Format: Hardcover
You don't have to know anything about medicine to enjoy one of the most fascinating true-life stories that I have ever read. In his own words, Doctor Victor Heiser, shares story after story of fighting pandemics around the world in the years of approx. 1900 to 1920. It is amazing to read how it used to be in countries around the world before the world of medicine began to work together thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation, which he was a part of from the beginning (as described in the book). The stories are not only fascinating dealing with malaria, Cholera, leprosy and beyond but at times touching and other times hysterically funny! I still chuckle to think of him taking sick guinea pigs (in order to get a strain of "icterohemorrhagica "to the Rockefeller Institute in New York from Japan) across the ocean when a dead corpse in the wildly pitching ship's morgue landed on his shoulders as he was cutting out a mortally sick pig's liver! One wrong move and he would have the disease himself! I highly suggest this book if you love history, culture, medicine and just plain interesting stories of a day gone by.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding book. It should be required reading for every health professional, particularly individuals in the field of public health. Dr. Heiser miraculously survived the Johnstown, PA, Flood, at age 16 to become an international public health authority whose programs, advice, and guidance prevented the deaths of untold millions of people. His book chronicles his experiences as an officer in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and as an adviser with the Rockefeller Foundation during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Each chapter is fascinating and educational.
Winston J. Dean
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting book and a great read. Some very interesting comments from the doctor regarding culture that really could apply today. Some of his medical practice is, how shall I say it, "quaint"? But on other things he is spot-on. You really have to read it to understand what I'm talking about.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So glad I read this book, historical information contained in this autobiography. A must read.
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