cover image Doctors


Sherwin B. Nuland. Alfred A. Knopf, $29.95 (519pp) ISBN 978-0-394-55130-2

To tell the story of medicine since Hippocrates and Galen, Nuland, a surgeon and faculty member of the Yale School of Medicine, focuses on the personalities and careers of medical innovators since the 16th century who epitomized the scientific climate and culture of their period. His enthusiastic and anecdote-rich narrative ranges from Vesalius, whose magnificently illustrated text on anatomy reflected the Renaissance rediscovery of the human body, to Barnard's high-tech heart transplants and other organ-replacement surgery of today. Medical landmarks include Harvey's charting of the circulatory system, Laennec's invention of the diagnostic stethoscope, and the discovery of germs and antisepsis by Pasteur and Lister. Nuland also notes contributions by Americans (Halsted and Cushing among them), as well as advances in transfusions, anesthesia, medical training and surgery. Having documented the transition of doctors from personal healers to reductionist technicians concerned primarily with disease, he welcomes efforts by today's physicians to return to a more humanistic approach. (May)