- Series: Truman Talley
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (March 30, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452265886
- ISBN-13: 978-0452265882
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Medical Detectives: The Classic Collection of Award-Winning Medical Investigative Reporting (Truman Talley) Reprint Edition
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“Berton Roueché’s ‘Annals of Medicine’ pieces enriched us for well over a quarter of a century. They have become classics in a genre he himself created single-handedly.”—The American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters
“Roueché’s writings have become unofficial textbooks for medical students, interns, practitioners, scientists, and for that matter anyone interested in human illness. They are engrossing, instructive, accurate, and marvelous fun to read, and the present collection represents Roueché at his best.”—Lewis Thomas, MD, author of The Lives of a Cell and The Medusa and the Snail
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10 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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When a Berton Roueche medical investigation appeared in The New Yorker of old, it was an event. Roueche was the fore-runner to at least twenty very fine writers now doing the same thing: breaking into the genetic vault to try to understand how we catch diseases,what we can do about not catching them, and learning how to recognize them
These narratives read today seem comfortable and natural, as indeed they were on publication. Roueche may have been one of the earlier writers to find and identify and stick to a niche.
As friends in Easthampton in the 60s, there was nothing eerie or Charles Addams-ish about Berton or his lovely wife Kay. But they were quietly and seriously curious about medicine and could go underground for lengthy periods of time to scope out what they might have suspected.
And we,as readers, were nine times out ten fascinated by what had been unearthed.
This, readers, is a "source" of much that followed that has proven not only gripping but also seminal. It's a treat.
John Neufeld,author of
Lisa, Bright and Dark (Kindle) and Edgar Allan (also Kindle-d)
It's a collection of 25 essays first published mostly in the 1950s and 1960s culled from the pages of The New Yorker. Each is written in plain language and accessible to the non-specialist and to lay people who aren't busy watching "World's Wildest Police Videos." Roueche was a good writer -- good in the sense of putting down clear prose and good in the sense of packing it with suspense. Here's his opening to one of the chapters, "A Man Named Hoffman."
"Around ten o'clock in the morning of Wednesday, March 4, 1964, a man named Donald Hoffman presented himself for treatment at the Student Health Clinic of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, some thirty miles northwest of Cincinnati. Hoffman was thirty-six years old, married, and a residentof Cincinnati, but, as he explained to the receptionist, he was currently employed as an insulation installer, in Oxford . . . and his company had an arrangement with the clinic. He was here, he added, because he foreman had sent him. That was the only reason. His trouble was nothing -- an itchy sore on the side of his neck. He had probably picked up a sliver of glass-wool fiber. It had happened several times before. It was a common complaint in his trade."
First, note the precision of the presentation and the detail Roueche gives us. We even know the time of day that Hoffman showed up at the clinic. This is authoritative stuff. It sounds like The Voice of God narrators in one of those post-war docudramas about Nazis and gangsters that were paeans to J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Or maybe "Dragnet." "It was four o'clock in the afternoon, Wednesday, March 4th. We were working the bunko squad out of Littering. It was hot in Los Angeles."
Second, okay, the poor guy has an itchy sore on his neck, maybe from glass-wool fiber, right? Wrong. After a lengthy examination of Hoffman, his place of work, the materials he schleps around, it turns out that he has ANTHRAX -- a rare disease of goats! Most of the chapters are rather like detective stories. The patient presents with symptoms that are only slightly odd but turn out to be much odder than they seem.
I read some of the later stories when they first appeared in The New Yorker and was enthralled, informed, and sometimes amused by them. My favorite is "The Orange Man." The patient shows up at his family doctor's office and is a bright pumpkin-orange -- but he doesn't realize it. His complaint is a stomach ache! His wife has never noticed the change either. Further, there is no disorder that turns the skin a bright orange. (The man, as it develops, has two simultaneous disorders, one that turns you red and one that turns you yellow.)
It's an enjoyable and educational collection. And let me put it this way. If you like Agatha Christie, you ought to like "The Medical Detectives."
Most of the cases happened in the 1950's or 1960's, when sophisticated, CSI-era analytical techniques were unavailable. Nonetheless, there is no sense that these stories are dated. Roueche is a natural storyteller and has the rare ability to present technical aspects in a way that is intelligible to the non-expert reader, at just the right level of detail.
It's like 25 "House" episodes, but without the gratuitous obnoxiousness, condescension to the reader, or the ridiculous constraint that only a limping, misanthropic painkiller addict can be right.
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Berton Roueché was born and raised in Kansas City and educated at the University of Missouri.Read more