Physician to the World: The Life of General William C. Gorgas

Physician to the World: The Life of General William C. Gorgas

by John M. Gibson
     
 

Physician to the World by John M. Gibson is a study of the career of William Crawford Gorgas, focusing primarily on the 22 years from the Spanish-American War until his death at the age of 65. The book details the medical community’s gradual acceptance of the mosquito theory as the cause for yellow fever epidemics and follows Gorgas as his initial

…  See more details below

Overview

Physician to the World by John M. Gibson is a study of the career of William Crawford Gorgas, focusing primarily on the 22 years from the Spanish-American War until his death at the age of 65. The book details the medical community’s gradual acceptance of the mosquito theory as the cause for yellow fever epidemics and follows Gorgas as his initial skepticism gave way to belief while he participated in Walter Reed’s massive cleanup of Havana. From this success Gorgas moved to the Panama Canal Zone and a bureaucratic quagmire as he attempted to apply sanitary principles there to control yellow fever and malaria. As canal construction proceeded, assorted red-tape and critics repeatedly thwarted Gorgas’s efforts. His particular nemesis was the imperious engineer George Goethals, who ruled the construction project with an iron hand. Gorgas’s dogged persistence to make Panama healthy for both Americans and natives eventually succeeded, enabling the project to be completed with minimum loss of life. During World War I Gorgas became U.S. Surgeon General, and finally his reputation equaled his accomplishments. He traveled widely in Europe, South Africa, and South America on behalf of public health improvements and was about to begin another such journey when he died of complications from a stroke in London in 1920.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is an interesting and entertaining biography of Dr. William C. Gorgas, the Army physician who has been called by many 'the man who made the building of the Panama Canal possible.' Although his name is not so familiar to the present generation, Gorgas is most noted for his brilliant work in overcoming yellow fever. The Gorgas story is that of a young man whose determination to enter the Army first led him to go through medical school, of an Army physician who deliberately entered a yellow fever ward to study the disease, of the romance of a physician who married one of his patients, of the struggle to make the Panama Canal area safe for workers in the face of ridicule, and of the successful health-protection campaign launched among American soldiers during World War I. This book is recommended to all readers interested in medicine [and] history." --The Journal of the American Medical Association

"...the principal address at the Annual Meeting [of the American Public Health Association] in Washington, D. C., in [1917] was delivered by a distinguished, whitehaired, soft-speaking, typical southern gentleman and physician named William Crawford Gorgas. Then at the height of his well merited fame, Gorgas had been serving since 1914 as Surgeon General of the Army. Two years after his retirement from this position, in 1920, General Gorgas died in England while en route to the endemic disease centers in West Africa on a mission for the International Health Board of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Although the name of Gorgas has been only a memory for more than three decades, his many sanitary achievements, especially his conquests of yellow fever and malaria in Havana and Panama, never can be or will be forgotten....Now this imperishable story is told again, appropriately by the director of public health education in Gorgas's native state, Alabama. It is told very well indeed, without any of that brash jauntiness which characterizes some of the popular writings about our so-called health heroes. Not only is the style smooth and interesting, but the material, augmented by private papers made available by the Gorgas family, seems authoritative. It is also more complete in describing some of the later and less well known facets of the famous Gorgas career.
This well printed, well documented, well indexed, and well written book deserves wide reading, not only by physicians and sanitarians but by the general public." --James A. Tobey, American Journal of Public Health and the Nation's Health

"[An] excellent book...this volume remains a charming introduction to an astounding life." --James Polk Morris, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association

Booknews
Paperbound reprint. Originally published in 1950. Contains a new 15-page introduction by Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins (history, U. of Alabama). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780817304577
Publisher:
University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
10/30/1989
Series:
Library Alabama Classics Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

John M. Gibson (1899-1966) was a journalist educated at the University of North Carolina and Columbia University. He served as Director of Public Health Education at the Alabama State Health Department from 1937-1954, and was a research specialist for the North Carolina Sate Board of Health. He was also the author of three other books and at least forty-five articles.

Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins is a Professor of History at The University of Alabama.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >