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Five Patients: The Hospital Explained

Overview

"Crichton has an extraordinary capacity to seize upon, then make real and personal, the new and the complex, the intriguing and the frighening."
THE NATION
In this incisive, detailed survey of five patients, famous thriller author and doctor Michael Crichton explores the dramatic workings of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston's oldest and most prestigious.
This readable account covers not only the history of the hospital's place in society,...
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1989-01-13 Mass Market Paperback New

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Overview

"Crichton has an extraordinary capacity to seize upon, then make real and personal, the new and the complex, the intriguing and the frighening."
THE NATION
In this incisive, detailed survey of five patients, famous thriller author and doctor Michael Crichton explores the dramatic workings of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston's oldest and most prestigious.
This readable account covers not only the history of the hospital's place in society, but also the actual minute-to-minute functions of Mass General, where health professionals wage their daily battle against disease and death. Crichton's insightful look at the changes in medicine and surgery caused by technological strides of recent years makes for amazing reading.

Michael Crichton takes a look at venerable Massachusetts General, giving firsthand accounts of five true and poignant cases which reveal the near-miraculous proficiency--and sometimes alarming inefficiency--of a major city hospital. A dramatic, behind-the-scenes tale from the author of Sphere. Reissue.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345354648
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/13/1989
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton
It stands to reason that someone with as many pursuits as Michael Crichton (novelist, nonfiction writer, screenwriter, director, software engineer, M.D.) might achieve only modest success in any of them. But Crichton somehow excelled at them all. His books, suffused with his scientific research and knowledge, never failed to present imaginative, chilling scenarios that jumped from historical capers to futuristic sci-fi. He died on November 4, 2008, after a long battle against cancer.

Biography

Michael Crichton's oeuvre is so vivid and varied that it hard to believe everything sprang from the mind of a single writer. There's the dino-movie franchise and merchandising behemoth Jurassic Park; the long-running, top-rated TV series ER, which Crichton created; and sci-fi tales so cinematic a few were filmed more than once. He's even had a dinosaur named after him.

Ironically, for someone who is credited with selling over 150 million books, Crichton initially avoided writing because he didn't think he would make a living at it. So he turned to medical school instead, graduating with an M.D. from Harvard in 1969. The budding doctor had already written one award-winning novel pseudonymically (1968's A Case of Need) to help pay the bills through school; but when The Andromeda Strain came out in the same year of his med school graduation, Crichton's new career path became obvious.

The Andromeda Strain brilliantly and convincingly sets out an American scientific crisis in the form of a deadly epidemic. Its tone -- both critical of and sympathetic toward the scientific community -- set a precedent for Crichton works to come. A 1970 nonfiction work, Five Patients offers the same tone in a very different form, that being an inside look at a hospital.

Crichton's works were inspired by a remarkably curious mind. His plots often explored scientific issues -- but not always. Some of his most compelling thrillers were set against the backdrop of global trade relations (Rising Sun), corporate treachery (Disclosure) and good old-fashioned Victorian-era theft (The Great Train Robbery). The author never shied away from challenging topics, but it's obvious from his phenomenal sales that he never waxed pedantic. Writing about Prey, Crichton's cautionary tale of nanotech gone awry, The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another."

On the page, Crichton's storytelling was eerily nonfictional in style. His journalistic, almost professorial, and usually third-person narration lent an air of credibility to his often disturbing tales -- in The Andromeda Strain, he went so far as to provide a fake bibliography. Along the way, he revelled in flouting basic, often subconscious assumptions: Dinosaurs are long-gone; women are workplace victims, not predators; computers are, by and large, predictable machines.

The dazzling diversity of Crichton's interests and talents became ever more evident as the years progressed. In addition to penning bestselling novels, he wrote screenplays and a travel memoir, directed several movies, created Academy Award-winning movie production software, and testified before Congress about the science of global warming -- this last as a result of his controversial 2004 eco-thriller State of Fear, a novel that reflected Crichton's own skepticism about the true nature of climate change. His views on the subject were severely criticized by leading environmentalists.

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton died, following a long battle against cancer. Beloved by millions of readers, his techno-thrillers and science-inflected cautionary tales remain perennial bestsellers and have spawned a literary genre all its own.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our 2005 interview with Crichton:

"I'm very interested in 20th-century American art."

"I have always been interested in movies and television as well as books. I see all these as media for storytelling, and I don't discriminate among them. At some periods of my life I preferred to work on movies, and at others I preferred books."

"In the early 1990s, interviewers began calling me ‘the father of the techno-thriller.' Nobody ever had before. Finally I began asking the interviewers, ‘Why do you call me that?' They said, ‘Because Tom Clancy says you are the father of the techno-thriller.' So I called Tom up and said, ‘Listen, thank you, but I'm not the father of the techno-thriller.' He said, ‘Yes you are.' I said, ‘No, I'm not, before me there were thrillers like Failsafe and Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate that were techno-thrillers.' He said, ‘No, those are all political. You're the father of the techno-thriller.' And there it ended."

"My favorite recreation is to hike in the wilderness. I am fond of Hawaii."

"I used to scuba dive a lot, but haven't lately. For a time I liked to photograph sharks but like anything else, the thrill wears off. Earlier in my life I took serious risks, but I stopped when I became a parent."

"I taught myself to cook by following Indian and Szechuan recipes. They each have about 20 ingredients. I used to grind my own spices, I was really into it. Now I don't have much time to cook anymore. When I do, I cook Italian food."

"I read almost exclusively nonfiction. Most times I am researching some topic, which may or may not lead to a book. So my reading is pretty focused, although the focus can shift quickly."

"I have always been interested in whatever is missing or excluded from conventional thought. As a result I am drawn to writers who are out of fashion, bypassed, irritating, difficult, or excessive. I also like the disreputable works of famous writers. Thus I end up reading and liking Paul Feyerabend (Against Method), G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy, What's Wrong with the World), John Stuart Mill, Hemingway (Garden of Eden), Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Alain Finkielkraut (Defeat of the Mind), Anton Ehrenzweig (Hidden Order of Art), Arthur Koestler (Midwife Toad, Beyond Reductionism), Ian McHarg (Design with Nature), Marguerite Duras, Jung, late James M. Cain (Serenade), Paul Campos.

"Because I get up so early to work, I tend to go to bed early, around 10 or 11. So I don't go out much. I suppose I am borderline reclusive. I don't care."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2004

    Five Patients

    Five Patients Michael Crichton wrote his best selling book, Five Patients. Personally, I didn¿t care for the book that much. I would, however, recommend this book to any one who likes E.R. or is just interested in medical treatment, care, medicine, or history. This book took place in the 1960¿s when Massachusetts General Hospital had a busy day with no backup personal. There are five patients who tell this story about their experiences in the hospital. Ralph Orlando told his story in ¿Now and Then,¿ the first chapter. This chapter was about the regular things that go on in the hospital day to day. Then John O¿Connor, with ¿The Cost of the Cure¿ in the second chapter, tells about how much it costs for the cure they need for different patients. After him, Peter Luchesie tells his part in the ¿Surgical Tradition.¿ It is about traditions of the hospital and gives information about the hospital. Sylvia Thompson in the ¿Medical Transition,¿ of the hospital. Finally Edith Murphy in chapter five tells about the ¿Patient and Doctor.¿ The over all arrangement of this book is good. It gets its point across, makes you more aware of what happened on a day at Massachusetts General Hospital, some medical terms, and treatments. It is a fairly easy reader for any one interested in medical history, treatments, or in knowing more about an accident that occurred in the 1960¿s. Five Patients is a great book for you to read if you would like to know more about the medical transition that took place at Massachusetts General Hospital and some medical terms. It will make you more aware of medical terms, and the transitions of that hospital since then.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    Remember: It's Non-fiction.

    I am a huge Crichton fan, both of his fiction and non-fiction works. I feel that Five Patients gives a decent enough description of modern medicine (in the early 70's, when the book was written), but where the book really shines is in its informational inserts. This book is not about characters or suspense, it is about a hospital: that big, white, cement building located in most towns. If that does not interest you, stay far away. However, if it does or if you just feel like obtaining a better grasp of the history and reasoning behind the hospital, pick up a copy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2001

    KICK ASS

    THIS BOOK IS SIMPLY THE BEST

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2000

    BAD BOOK

    This is not an accurate depiction in the least of the medical world. This gives people a horribly distorted impression of what modern medicine is.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

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