Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century

Kevin Fong. Penguin Press, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59420-470-8
British doctor and space enthusiast Fong launches a gripping “exploration of the extreme tolerances of the human body” in this eloquent history of how 20th-century science and medicine moved us toward “improved survival”—and with it a better understanding of life and death. He begins with a tale of a young Norwegian woman’s incredible survival after deep hypothermia and moves on to describe the remarkable strides in burn care built on reconstructive surgery during WWII. Further along in his journey, Fong details the daring operations that opened “the continent of the heart,” and how the polio epidemic—which touched Fong’s own family—begat the fields of anesthesiology and intensive care. From the heart-pounding tale of how a fatal accident helped a grieving doctor develop life-saving trauma care to a moving depiction of the end of human life, these are thrilling stories that describe the limits of human physiology. But they have a more profound meaning as well, Fong finds. Whether it’s the 1912 South Pole expedition that claimed the life of Robert Falcon Scott or the obstacles that await our species as we prepare for outer space travel, Fong concludes, “We explore simply because we must.” (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/2013
Release date: 02/06/2014
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Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-1814-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-4814-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-6814-7
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-14-312629-4
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