- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199931690
- ISBN-13: 978-0199931699
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 6.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,389,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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William Harvey: A Life in Circulation 1st Edition
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"[Wright] absolutely does justice to his subject. Bravo."--Vivienne Parry, The Times (London, England)
"Thomas Wright's acute, imaginative book..."--John Carey, Sunday Times
"In Circulation, Wright tells a good story, warts and all...Wright reconstructs the research...[and] is attentive to the world in which his subject lived. The semi-medieval conditions of life at the universities of Cambridge and Padua are well-described."--Duncan Wu, The Independent
"Thomas Wright's lucid biography deftly puts Harvey into his cultural context..."--Hermione Eyre, Prospect
"Thomas Wright's lively little book on Harvey's revolutionary idea is a panegyric to the man's whirring mind, and to the excitements of thinking more generally."--Helen Brown, The Daily Telegraph (4 stars)
"As soon as I started the book, I was gripped with curiosity."--William Leith, Spectator
"Thomas Wright's book opens brilliantly and bloodily and continues in the same vein...[A] captivating, intellectually gripping journey into our country's scientific past."--Druin Birch, Mail on Sunday
"A fascinating narration of a largely untold story."--Peter Ackroyd, British author
"[A] sprightly new study...Wright has written a concise, skillful and often eloquent book."--Charles Nicholl, The Guardian
"Wright's (Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde) 'biography of an idea as much as...of a man' presents a wonderful portrait not only of physician William Harvey but also of the changing face of the study of medicine and scientific inquiry in Europe in the early 17th century...Other essays muse on broader cultural concepts such as metaphorical understandings of the heart and the extension of Harvey's ideas even beyond where he himself was comfortable. Wright pulls these threads together to create an enjoyably enlightening history of science, with more than enough background included to make this worthwhile for a general academic audience."--Publisher's Weekly, starred review
"'The little man of 'perpetual movement' has found a fine advocate in Thomas Wright, whose highly readable "Circulation" combines recent scholarship with more than a touch of drama..."--Helen Bynum, The Times Literary Supplement
"Using the doctor's surviving notes and letters as well as other contemporary sources, Wright convincingly re-creates William Harvey's England. The book's evocations of his boyhood education and college experiences give the later opposition to his theories a clearer context, and will convince readers that Harvey's concept of the heart changed people's perception of the world."--Booklist
"Wright offers an excellent account of Harvey's researches on the heart and circulation, but the real payoff comes from his reconstructions of events in Harvey's life: his days as a student in Cambridge and Padua, his medical practice, or his efforts to defend his work against critics. Wright paints a vivid picture..."--Bill Bynum, The Lancet
"This remarkable book represents the best in historical detective work. Wright pieces together what remains of a fragmented documentary record, providing a brilliant interpretation and thorough consideration of the period in which William Harvey (1578-1657) lived."--CHOICE
About the Author
Thomas Wright is the author of Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde, and of numerous articles for publications such as the Times Literary Supplement and the Independent. He is based in Italy and Oxford, where he teaches.
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Harvey lived at a time when dissections of human corpses were major social events. His description of the dissection theater in Padua where Harvey was a student is unforgettable. (The image of the theater is superimposed on the book's cover over Harvey's left eye.) The theater was filled with members of the general public who sat highest in the theater, then students by nationality (often hostile to each other) and lowest down the nobility, city leaders, and professors. It was, to use a modern term, a really big deal - entertainment as well as a source of knowledge. Wright does a great job of putting Harvey's life into the context of his times. Harvey was a contemporary of Francis Bacon, John Donne, Shakespeare, Descartes and Galileo. Wright notes any relationship (or not) that Harvey had with each and the book gives a unique angle on the European world in the first half of the 17th century.
Wright is an excellent writer. The book is divided into fifteen chapters and eight "essays" of 5-10 pages interspersed between the chapters. The essays put Harvey's life into context - the prior history of anatomy, the view of the heart up to that time, one each on Bacon and Descartes, one on the history of vivisection, one on the everyday London of Harvey's time, etc. I have read other biographies with interspersed "essays" like these and they frequently come across as filler. But not here. These are well-integrated into the flow of the book and help the reader a great deal to understand where Harvey is coming from and his society. Harvey's idea ran against the semi-sacred doctrines of "Galenic" medicine and his struggles and his later fame are all spelled out. This is a fluent and highly readable book. Parts will make you realize just how far we have come in medicine and how far we have come and still have to go in the difficult task of combining sound medical research with the humane treatment of animals.
The result, notwithstanding the subject matter, is some pretty dry reading. The lack of the subject life's details deprives the narrative of texture, much as one encounters in Wikipedia entries. You won't find your heart racing or your blood boiling.
Nonetheless, Author Wright clearly has a passion for his subject and a sufficiently comprehensive knowledge of medical matters to allow him to fashion explanations that a layman can follow. Although not recognized in his lifetime, Harvey’s work was indeed one of the pivotal accomplishments in the history of medical science, and it is fitting that we have here a fond and sympathetic account of the man and his times. Provided a reader isn’t put off by the ever-present lack of certainty in the narrative, the book is an enjoyable and edifying read.
Unfortunately,there is hardly a hint of any of those here.That would be a total tragedy if Paul Camster had not already made those details available for us all over the last decade-in plenty of time to prevent economic(and other)meltdowns.These are Nobel-nominated in:
Apocalypse Third Edition
The Gold Tinderbox
The Messiah Stone
Voice Of The Demon
The last of these details the slave trade links,also probed in CRIME&PUNISHMENT
None of these details are technically difficult to follow-Hollywood screenwriter K.Lewis even incorporated several into a stunning screenplay featuring Harvey as an archetypal Bond-style Dr Faustus figure wreaking vengeance on Camster`s relatives and everyone else who`d help bring his allies to justice-a villain worse than any so far ever seen.Co-incidentally,the 9/11 tragedy featured and was strangely prescient,as joint Harvey medical monopoly cult and Islamist bomb plots have featured in recent UK news-including one plot aimed at cremating dozens of women alive.
As Paul Camster is famously Nobel-nominated and very approachable on the subject-as K.Lewis found-the mystery of why such a golden opportunity to update this book was missed can only be guessed at,but it does a grave disservice to all of us who are-or know of-any of the victims whose plight is directly connected with Harvey cult activity today and will continue to be in the future.