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The Medical Book: From Witch Doctors to Robot Surgeons, 250 Milestones in the History of Medicine (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – September 4, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Pickover, a prolific writer and scientist, has selected 250 milestones he believes represent the most important advances in the history of medicine. This book is organized chronologically, starting with entries such as Witch doctor, Urinalysis, and Trepanation and ending with Human cloning. Each entry is just a few paragraphs on one page, with a photo or illustration on the facing page. The illustrations and photographs bring a vivid look at the people, cellular structures, and medical treatment, past and present, and add an extra dimension to the text. There is a brief bibliography for each entry located at the back of the book. A thorough index can lead a browser directly to a particular procedure, person, or topic. Cross-references appear at the end of each article to encouragement jumping around in the book, much as a reader on the Internet would surf through brief articles on several topics. This is the third in a series of books, the other two being The Math Book (2010) and The Physics Book (2011), from Pickover. The book succeeds in making the names, events, and procedures of medical history interesting to general readers. This is not a reference book per se but a work to spur the interests of young readers or to provide a brief history into varied medical research, personalities, illnesses, and treatments. There is a great deal of basic medical history to be learned here—whether the topic is cryonics, William Halsted, or sickle-cell anemia, there is solid information for any general reader, from teens to seniors. Recommended for most public libraries. --Steve Stratton

Review

"The writing is lively and the topics are varied  . . .  [Pickover] achieves his goals, and his brevity and breezy style should appeal to readers used to accessing information quickly on the Internet but who are still interested in picking up a book.” --Library Journal
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Product Details

  • Series: Sterling Milestones
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling; 1 edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402785852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402785856
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ray Erskins on October 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Medical Book" is Clifford A. Pickover's latest in a series of colorfully illustrated books that highlight 250 milestones in the history of a specific body of knowledge. The first of three was The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics (Sterling Milestones), which won the BSHM Neumann Prize and was soon followed by The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection, 250 Milestones in the History of Physics (Sterling Milestones), the second in what is now a trilogy. Each book is identical in size, shape, scope, and format, but they all contain the essence of their own unique and separate field of study.

"The Medical Book" begins with the very first milestone in medicine (circa 10,000 B.C.) with the "Witch Doctor" on page 16. One would have assumed that shamans, medicine men, etc. were the genesis of the prehistoric healing arts, and this seems to be the case. They were the earliest practitioners to utilize the "Placebo Effect" (page 404). And one can only hope that Stone Age witch doctors were more conscientious than the jokers who concocted a famous potion in the U.S. (circa 1890) known as Hamlin's Wizard Oil (page 294). This alleged cure-all contained alcohol, camphor, ammonia, chloroform, sassafras, cloves, and turpentine.
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Format: Hardcover
The Medical Book is the latest in a series of over forty scientific books by the author, Clifford Pickover. The Medical Book completes a trilogy on the theme of scientific milestones. The trilogy now includes the Medical Book, The Math Book and The Physics Book. Each book has the same format. There are exactly 250 milestones arranged in chronological order. Each milestone is provided with a two-page layout. On the left-hand page is a written explanation and on the right-hand page there is a full-page image. Among the images are paintings, photos, drawings from Untied States patents, and graphic representations associated with the milestones.

There is a progression in the scope of the subject matter covered in each of the three books. The Math Book, which is first in the series, covers a universe of abstract mathematical constructs while only occasionally touching on the physical world, e.g., the entry on the Bedsheet Problem. The Physics Book deals with the reality of space and time from the very large to the very small, beginning with the Big Bang and ending with the death of our Universe. The Medical Book takes us on a more personal journey. It starts with investigations of human anatomy, progresses through the discovery of the disease carriers, and eventually takes us on an exploration of the ever smaller: cells, bacteria, viruses, and DNA.

Pickover's genius lies in his ability to combine scientific explanation with thought-provoking images.
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Format: Hardcover
From the abstractions of mathematics to the far reaches of the universe and its innermost workings, Dr. Pickover has taken us on quite a ride with his first two books in a series: "The Math Book" and "The Physics Book." Now with his third volume, "The Medical Book," he helps us delve into that most intimate realm of our bodies, and explore the craft that has grown up around managing, treating, and at times healing its maladies.

What sets "The Medical Book" apart from the other two, and from others in its class, is that Dr. Pickover selects entries that show not only how the technical field has advanced, as his subtitle states, "From Witch Doctors to Robot Surgeons," but also how fundamental knowledge of the body has transformed to evolve medicine from a craft of reputation to a practice building on a scientific understanding of the body.

We're left with page after page of beautiful images that stoke the imagination. Dr. Pickover obviously loves to teach on each of the mysteries he presents, first visually, as shown by the pictures he carefully selects, and then masterfully and concisely, matching each with a single page explanation. Even the seemingly simple story of the discovery of vitamins provokes excitement with stories from the sea and scurvy matched with vivid color micrographs of vitamin C crystals.

This book puts the work and efforts of doctors, nurses, medical students, and all health care professionals in an appropriately deep and meaningful context. It's the perfect source for those who want to become oriented not only to the practice, but to the history and future of medicine. We should all look forward to the continuing positive trajectory Dr. Pickover has laid out with each new entrant into the medical field.
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