Medical Firsts: From Hippocrates to the Human Genome / Edition 1

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Overview


An exploration of medical discoveries-from the ancient Greeks to the present
""Always help, or at least do no harm."" Following this simple yet revolutionary idea, Hippocrates laid the foundation for modern medicine over two millennia ago. From the Hippocratic Oath to the human genome, from Pasteur's germ theory to the worldwide eradication of smallpox, Medical Firsts brings to life 2,500 years of medical advances and discoveries. Organized chronologically, the book describes each milestone in a vivid capsule history, making it a fascinating and wonderfully readable resource for anyone interested in medicine's past progress and future promise.
Robert E. Adler, PhD (Santa Rosa, CA) has worked as a psychologist and science journalist. He writes about a wide variety of scientific and medical topics for New Scientist, Nature, and other publications and is the author of Science Firsts (0-471-40174-9).
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* “Adler writes enthusiastically and engagingly about his subjects…” (British Medical Journal, 2nd October 2004)

“A valuable edition to a thriving scientific literary genre, this is a tour de force of medicine’s chequered history.” (Good Book Guide, June 2004)

“This is a ‘must read’ book for any with an interest in medical history.” (Country Doctor, June 2004)

In this cursory though delightful companion to his previous Science Firsts, Adler ably combines good storytelling, clear and cogent scientific explanations, a respect for science over superstition and a love of what he sees as one of humanity’s “finest and most difficult” arts: “the application of medical knowledge to individual human beings like you and me.” Through short, chronologically arranged histories of individuals who have defined medicine, Adler presents a compelling narrative arc from Hippocrates’ dream of “human mastery of health and disease” to current efforts to “decode, understand, and manipulate genetic information.” Adler vividly portrays the heroic efforts of such greats as Herophilus, who “discovered and described the prostate, the spermatic duct, the Fallopian tubes, and the ovaries” in the fourth century B.C.; Abu Bark al-Razi, whose 10th-century A.D. description of smallpox reads like “a modern diagnostic manual”; and Johann Weyer, who fought against the “paranoia, cruelty, and hatred of women” in the “Mal leus Maleficarum,” the bible of witch-hunters throughout Europe during the Inquisition. Adler also cogently presents more recent individuals such as Margaret Sanger, who championed the development and use of the first oral contraceptive, and Carleton Gajdusek and Stanley Prusiner, who worked to solve such illnesses as mad cow disease. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, February 16, 2004)

"In this slim but powerful volume, science writer Adler chronicles two-and-a-half millennia of medical history in all its fits, stalls, and starts. More than that, with lively narrative and numerous illustrations, he breathes life into each of the giants who laid a stepping-stone in medicine's path from cave drawings and charms to sophisticated, computer-assisted diagnoses. The contributors to the annals of medical knowledge he cites include the most famous names—Hippocrates, Pasteur, Freud, Alexander Fleming—and some not so commonly known, such as pioneering gynecologist Soranus (first century C.E.); Ibn al-Nafis (ca. 1210-88), credited as the first to understand and describe pulmonary circulation; and John Snow, an important figure in the war on cholera. From the parental background of Galen (130-200), the self-proclaimed "Prince of Physicians," to the social issues and political turmoil surrounding Margaret Sanger's fight for birth control, Adler discusses each figure's personal, social, and political history as it affected his or her contribution. A handy, highly readable reference." (Booklist)

Booklist
In this slim but powerful volume, science writer Adler chronicles two-and-a-half millennia of medical history in all its fits, stalls, and starts. More than that, with lively narrative and numerous illustrations, he breathes life into each of the giants who laid a stepping-stone in medicine's path from cave drawings and charms to sophisticated, computer-assisted diagnoses. The contributors to the annals of medical knowledge he cites include the most famous names--Hippocrates, Pasteur, Freud, Alexander Fleming--and some not so commonly known, such as pioneering gynecologist Soranus (first century C.E.); Ibn al-Nafis (ca. 1210-88), credited as the first to understand and describe pulmonary circulation; and John Snow, an important figure in the war on cholera. From the parental background of Galen (130-200), the self-proclaimed "Prince of Physicians," to the social issues and political turmoil surrounding Margaret Sanger's fight for birth control, Adler discusses each figure's personal, social, and political history as it affected his or her contribution. A handy, highly readable reference.
David Bradley
Following his simple yet revolutionary idea to "always help or at least do no harm", Hippocrates laid the foundation for the modern approach to medicine. This extraordinary chronology brings together many of the medical first that have taken place as well as introducing the significant historical figures in medicine.

Medical Firsts is written by world-famous science writer Robert E. Adler and, as you would expect from a professional, is fully researched, beautifully written and a fascinating read. His Grand Tour of medicine begins with Hippocrates, introduces us to Marcus Varro, Galen, Paracalsus, and beyond. Bringing us right up to date, Adler touches on SARS and the future of medicine, highlighting how we live in exciting times in terms of the discoveries and developments medicine will make in coming years and also in terms of the emergence of new diseases.
Science Writer, SCIENCEBASE.com

Book Sense
Science journalist Adler achieves a superb overview of Western medicine's greatest accomplishments with his latest book. From Hippocrates to Louis Pasteur to gene therapy, Medical Firsts manages to pack in 2,500 years of medical breakthroughs, discoveries, and revelations. A fun and readable reference for both medical and world historians alike.
April, 2004
Publishers Weekly
In this cursory though delightful companion to his previous Science Firsts, Adler ably combines good storytelling, clear and cogent scientific explanations, a respect for science over superstition and a love of what he sees as one of humanity's "finest and most difficult" arts: "the application of medical knowledge to individual human beings like you and me." Through short, chronologically arranged histories of individuals who have defined medicine, Adler presents a compelling narrative arc from Hippocrates' dream of "human mastery of health and disease" to current efforts to "decode, understand, and manipulate genetic information." Adler vividly portrays the heroic efforts of such greats as Herophilus, who "discovered and described the prostate, the spermatic duct, the Fallopian tubes, and the ovaries" in the fourth century B.C.; Abu Bark al-Razi, whose 10th-century A.D. description of smallpox reads like "a modern diagnostic manual"; and Johann Weyer, who fought against the "paranoia, cruelty, and hatred of women" in the "Malleus Maleficarum," the bible of witch-hunters throughout Europe during the Inquisition. Adler also cogently presents more recent individuals such as Margaret Sanger, who championed the development and use of the first oral contraceptive, and Carleton Gajdusek and Stanley Prusiner, who worked to solve such illnesses as mad cow disease. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471401759
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/29/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,069,571
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT E. ADLER, PhD, is a psychologist, science journalist, and author of the critically acclaimed Science Firsts. He writes about a wide variety of scientific and medical topics for New Scientist, Nature, and other publications.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

1. Hippocrates: A Principle and a Method.

2. Herophilus and Erasistratus: The Light That Failed.

3. Marcus Varro: The Germ of an Idea.

4. Soranus: The Birthing Doctor.

5. Galen of Pergamon: Combative Genius.

6. The Enlightened Mind of Abu Bakr al-Razi.

7. Ibn al-Nafis: Galen’s Nemesis.

8. Paracelsus: Renaissance Rebel.

9. Andreas Vesalius: Driven to Dissection.

10. Johann Weyer: A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World.

11. William Harvey and the Movements of the Heart.

12. Edward Jenner: A Friend of Humanity.

13. Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On: The Discovery of Anesthesia.

14. Antisepsis: Awakening from a Nightmare.

15. The Quiet Dr. Snow.

16. Pasteur and the Germ Theory of Disease.

17. Out of the Corner of His Eye: Roentgen Discovers X-rays.

18. Sigmund Freud’s Dynamic Unconscious.

19. Beyond Bacteria: Ivanovsky’s Discovery of Viruses.

20. The Prepared Mind of Alexander Fleming.

21. Margaret Sanger and the Pill.

22. Organ Transplantation: A Legacy of Life.

23. A Baby’s Cry: The Birth of In Vitro Fertilization.

24. Humanity Eradicates a Disease—Smallpox—for the First Time.

25. Cannibals, Kuru, and Mad Cows: A New Kind of Plague.

26. Self, Nonself, and Danger: Deciphering the Immune System.

27. Discovery Can’t Wait: Deciding the Human Genome.

28. Into the Future.

References and Further Reading.

Index.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2004

    A must read for those in the medical profession

    I highly recommend this book, especially to those who practice or are about to practice in the field of medicine. Even if I were not a physician, I think I would still have found reading Dr. Adler's 'Medical Firsts' a very enriching and worthwhile experience. The author has created an educational yet highly entertaining work in which he has chosen to write about specific physician/scientists through history who he feels were the most visionary and heroic in their contributions to the advancement of Western Medicine. In reading the book, I feel as if I have been taken on a unique journey through medical history, which often feels like a complex maze. Along the way, the author describes some tragic blind alleys where some physician/scientists who had come forth with potentially life saving discoveries were shunned and considered heretical because they dared to challenge the status quo with their scientific approach to medical research and practice. In each concise and well-written chapter, the author's respect and admiration for the enlightened scientific method practiced by these great discoverers comes through vividly. I found the author's message uplifting: if we are able to trust and support an open-minded, rational and scientific approach to humanity's suffering, we will someday live in a more peaceful and just world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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