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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: David L. Nahrwold, MD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This is an illustrated, comprehensive history of American surgery and its specialties. The details are separated into 12 eras, such as Native American Surgery and the Civil War. A time line of socioeconomic and political events is provided for each era so the reader can relate surgical history to the history of our country. The general history of surgery comprises the first two-thirds of the book and the remaining third consists of the histories of surgical specialties, largely exposed through the biographies of those who developed and advanced them.
Purpose: The author, an accomplished surgical historian, noted the absence of a comprehensive sourcebook for his studies of surgical history. He produced this work to rectify this for those interested in the history of surgery as well as to link surgical history to that of our country.
Audience: This extraordinary work was written for all who are interested in medical history. General and medical historians, surgeons, surgical residents, medical students, and any interested physician will find it an invaluable resource in researching the genesis of events in American surgery and in studying the lives of the many surgeons who shaped the field in our country. The author himself is emerging as an important contemporary surgical historian and this work confirms his talent.
Features: The hundreds of illustrations, mostly portraits, but also paintings, photographs, and other illustrations—many from the Burns collection—are the highlight of the work. Many are in color and reproduction value is excellent. The very complete bibliography, consisting of general historical works as well as journal articles, is a valuable resource in itself. The table of contents and the index are clear and complete. The cover, stock, size, and appearance of the book all speak of its quality.
Assessment: Without question, this is the modern, definitive text on the history of American surgery. Although the details of the development of the surgical specialties are limited, readers will find the book outstanding as a reference source, or for relating the development of surgery to this times in which the innovators and leaders lived, as well as a very good read. The work is simply splendid.