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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: K. Paul Poulouse, MD (Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Administration Medical Center)
Description: This is a new book on the life and times of the great French neurologist, Jean Martin Charcot. Beginning with his early years in Paris, his education as a physician, and, finally, establishing himself as a physician and professor of anatomical pathology at Salpetriere, the volume is exhaustive in its coverage.
Purpose: The authors have highlighted the dominant role played by Charcot in defining neurology as a specialty from the general field of medicine, and they have eminently succeeded in their objective.
Audience: The book is well researched, and the wealth of material in the book will be of great interest to neurologists, physicians, and medical students in addition to historians and librarians. The authors, two neurologists and a medical historian, have clearly succeeded in creating an outstanding biography on Charcot.
Features: The illustrations are of good quality and add greatly to the attractiveness of this publication. The references are exhaustive and cover the broad range of this historical biography. However, the subtitle, "Constructing Neurology," is not appealing and does not readily convey the authors' intent of emphasizing the key role played by Charcot in defining neurology as a specialty. The chronological table at the end of the book will be of immense value to historians and researchers.
Assessment: This well-researched and comprehensive historical biography of Charcot, the best such publication I have seen to date, is an invaluable source of information for neurologists, physicians and physicians in training, historians, and librarians. It highlights Charcot's clinical-anatomical approach to neurological problems and the singular role he played in defining neurology as a distinct specialty. Charcot's close interactions with some of the renowned medical men of his era and his influence on the subsequent careers of great personalities like Freud, for example, is well brought out. This is truly an outstanding publication.