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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Herold B. Griffith, MD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This extremely well-produced and attractive book is a remarkably comprehensive yet very readable history of the past 5,000 years of surgery.
Purpose: The stated purpose is threefold: (1) to provide an understanding of the significant events of world history that occurred during each surgical era; (2) to trace the development of the professionalization of surgery and describe the outstanding achievements in this broad field; and (3) to provide detailed information about the lives of the great surgeons. These goals are nicely met.
Audience: Not only is this book useful for the education and enjoyment of surgeons, students, and residents, but it serves historians and the general public as a superb reference work.
Features: The well-written text is embellished by 345 illustrations, 110 of them in full color, taken from old books, manuscripts, museums, and galleries. It is divided into eras, and then by regions, cultures, specialties, and personalities. Of particular value are five large charts that list the important events and people in daily life, science and technology, religion and philosophy, literature and theater, music, and the visual arts, in chronological relation to the great surgeons of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Assessment: As is inevitable in a book of this scope and magnitude, there are a few minor errors and typos, e.g., the Susruta Samhita does not mention the forehead flap for nasal reconstruction, and W.S. Halsted did not die in 1992, but rather in 1922. Also there might have been more attention given to the great advances in, for example, plastic surgery and orthopedics, that occurred during World Wars I and II and in the years since then. But it is impossible to include everything, especially in one's own century. Overall this is a splendid book in format and in content. It deserves a place in every surgeon's book collection and certainly in every medical and reference library.