Catalogue


Medical firsts : from Hippocrates to the human genome /
Robert Adler.
imprint
Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, c2004.
description
vii, 232 p.
ISBN
0471401757 (Cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, c2004.
isbn
0471401757 (Cloth)
catalogue key
5129574
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Each disease has a nature of its own, and none arises without its natural cause." With this simple, yet revolutionary idea, the Greek physician Hippocrates laid the foundation for modern medicine over two millennia ago. Of course, prior to that, healers had achieved some remarkable things. But ancient medicine was a hit-and-miss affair rooted in pagan ritual and magic. For example, an ancient Egyptian doctor might just as likely prescribe a ritual dance as medicinal herbs for pneumonia. It was Hippocrates who took medicine out of the realm of myth and superstition and established it on a scientific footing. So powerful was his idea of relying on the direct and systematic observation of nature to reveal the causes and cures of diseases that virtually every major medical advance since then can be traced directly back to it. In Medical Firsts, science journalist and author Robert Adler recounts the fascinating story of Western medicine as told through the lives and achievements of more than thirty of its brightest lights. Combining a journalist's economy of style and a born storyteller's way with a good yarn, he takes us on a grand tour of 2,500 years of medical innovation-- from Hippocrates' grand idea to William Harvey's discovery of the workings of the human circulatory system to Pasteur's proof of the germ theory of disease to the mapping of the human genome. He provides vivid profiles of the great men and women responsible for the medical milestones he describes, while bringing the science and technology involved down to earth for general readers. Medical Firsts offers you an exciting opportunity to be an eyewitness to medical history in the making. You'll visit Rome in the first century a.d. to meet Soranus, founder of obstetrics and gynecology. You'll eavesdrop on Sigmund Freud in the Viennese consulting room where he unlocked the secrets of the subconscious mind. You'll watch as accomplished con man and the world's first anesthesiologist, William Morton, administers ether to a cancer patient at Massachusetts General Hospital, site of the first use of surgical anesthesia, in 1844. And you'll visit the research labs and hospitals around the world where exciting breakthroughs in stem cell and gene therapies are rapidly writing a bold new chapter in the story begun by Hippocrates twenty-five centuries ago.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-02-16:
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2004-10-01:
This is a useful, brief review of the history of human medicine. Mildly reminiscent of Friedman and Friedland's Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries (CH, Jun'99), the book has some topics in common with the earlier one. Adler (an independent scholar) stumbles early, confusing cerebellum and cerebrum (p.15), but recovers with some insightful chapters. Chapter 10, "Johann Weyer: A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World," speaks loudly to readers, with residues of doctrinal constraints on the human spirit. Chapter 21, "Margaret Sanger and the Pill," shows the value of inspired scientific intelligence applied to major world health problems. Chapter 24, "Humanity Eradicates a Disease--Smallpox--for the First Time," claims a false achievement, for repositories of the virus have not been destroyed; chapter 27 captures the drama of the genome project. Adler makes no judgment on the point, but James Watson was right to oppose patents for genomic sequences. (Omitted is the idiosyncratic fact that the principal source of Venter's DNA sample was himself.) On the valuable contributions of early Islamic physicians Abu Bakr al-Razi and Ibn al-Nafis, chapters 6 and 7 are good. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. D. R. Shanklin University of Chicago
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An elegantly written account of the history of medicine from the era of the ancient Greeks to the present day, with superb chapters on landmark figures like Sigmund Freud, Louis Pasteur and Margaret Sanger. Both the fit and not so fit among us will find Adler's book about health and disease enlightening and entertaining. It's just what the doctor ordered." -Jonah Raskin, chairman, Communication Studies Department, Sonoma State University. "An exhilarating grand tour of medicine's major milestones. Robert Adler's impressively researched and highly entertaining book is a fitting tribute to the men and women whose triumphant legacy has been the amelioration of human pain and suffering." -Marcus Chown, author of The Universe Next Door "Medical Firsts compellingly shows that the heroic battle against disease is one of the greatest endeavors in human history." -Victor McElheny, author of Watson and DNA: Making a Scientific Revolution "MEDICAL FIRSTS is thoroughly researched, delightfully illustrated, and a joy to read from cove r to cover or chapter by chapter. One is continually drawn along as Adler reveals myriad medical mysteries by describing the scientists, the life and times during which they work, and the frustrations and rejections they experience in their quests for medical knowledge and discovery. This is a book for everyone to enjoy, whatever their interests." -Barbara B. Frank, MD, FACG, Professor of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine "Curious but busy readers will appreciate these 28 responsible yet gung ho short stories of mainstream medical history highlights -- a 4,600 year chronological account from Egypt's Imhotep's earliest writings to human-genome Craig Venter's alleged "Hitlerian" impatience." -Dr. Lynn Margulis " Medical Firsts is a fast-paced, thrilling journey through the medical breakthroughs of the last three millennia. Superbly written, entertaining and poignant... Medical Firsts beautifully captures the thrills of medical discovery." -Paul Thompson, Ph.D.,Associate Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine & Brain Research Institute " Medical Firsts is a great introduction to some of the high points in the history of medicine--clear, accessible writing, factual, and so up-to-date that some sections contain this season's cutting edge science. But what I liked most was Adler's ability to frame these stories in their social and political contexts and in the context of the lives of these pioneering scientists themselves. This is a terrific book." -Robert Sapolsky, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, and author of A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons
"An elegantly written account of the history of medicine from the era of the ancient Greeks to the present day, with superb chapters on landmark figures like Sigmund Freud, Louis Pasteur and Margaret Sanger. Both the fit and not so fit among us will find Adler's book about health and disease enlightening and entertaining. It's just what the doctor ordered." -Jonah Raskin, chairman, Communication Studies Department, Sonoma State University."An exhilarating grand tour of medicine's major milestones. Robert Adler's impressively researched and highly entertaining book is a fitting tribute to the men and women whose triumphant legacy has been the amelioration of human pain and suffering." -Marcus Chown, author of The Universe Next Door"Medical Firsts compellingly shows that the heroic battle against disease is one of the greatest endeavors in human history." -Victor McElheny, author of Watson and DNA: Making a Scientific Revolution"MEDICAL FIRSTS is thoroughly researched, delightfully illustrated, and a joy to read from cove r to cover or chapter by chapter. One is continually drawn along as Adler reveals myriad medical mysteries by describing the scientists, the life and times during which they work, and the frustrations and rejections they experience in their quests for medical knowledge and discovery. This is a book for everyone to enjoy, whatever their interests." -Barbara B. Frank, MD, FACG, Professor of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine"Curious but busy readers will appreciate these 28 responsible yet gung ho short stories of mainstream medical history highlights -- a 4,600 year chronological account from Egypt's Imhotep's earliest writings to human-genome Craig Venter's alleged "Hitlerian" impatience." -Dr. Lynn Margulis"Medical Firsts is a fast-paced, thrilling journey through the medical breakthroughs of the last three millennia. Superbly written, entertaining and poignant...Medical Firsts beautifully captures the thrills of medical discovery." -Paul Thompson, Ph.D.,Associate Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine & Brain Research Institute"Medical Firsts is a great introduction to some of the high points in the history of medicine--clear, accessible writing, factual, and so up-to-date that some sections contain this season's cutting edge science. But what I liked most was Adler's ability to frame these stories in their social and political contexts and in the context of the lives of these pioneering scientists themselves. This is a terrific book." -Robert Sapolsky, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, and author of A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons
"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)
* "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)
"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)
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, February 2004
Booklist, April 2004
Choice, October 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
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).
Bowker Data Service Summary
An exploration of medical discoveries, from the Ancient Greeks to the present, this volume details 2,500 years of medical advance, including the Hippocratic Oath, Pasteur's theory about germs, the discovery of a cure for smallpox & the succesful transplantation of human organs.
Back Cover Copy
Advance Praise for MEDICAL FIRSTS "Medical Firsts is a great introduction to some of the high points in the history of medicine-- clear, accessible writing, factual, and so up-to-date that some sections contain this season's cutting-edge science. This is a terrific book." -- Robert Sapolsky, professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, and author of A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons "An exhilarating grand tour of medicine's major milestones. Robert Adler's impressively researched and highly entertaining book is a fitting tribute to the men and women whose triumphant legacy has been the amelioration of human pain and suffering." -- Marcus Chown, author of The Universe Next Door "Medical Firsts compellingly shows that the heroic battle against disease is one of the greatest endeavors in human history." -- Victor McElheny, author of Watson and DNA: Making a Scientific Revolution "An elegantly written account of the history of medicine from the era of the ancient Greeks to the present day, with superb chapters on landmark figures like Sigmund Freud, Louis Pasteur, and Margaret Sanger. Both the fit and not so fit among us will find Adler's book about health and disease enlightening and entertaining. It's just what the doctor ordered." -- Jonah Raskin, author of For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman "Medical Firsts is a fast-paced, thrilling journey through the medical breakthroughs of the last three millennia. Superbly written, entertaining, and poignant . . . Medical Firsts beautifully captures the thrills of medical discovery." -- Paul Thompson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine & Brain Research Institute "Medical Firsts is thoroughly researched, delightfully illustrated, and a joy to read from cover to cover or chapter by chapter. One is continually drawn along as Adler reveals myriad medical mysteries by describing the scientists, the life and times during which they work, and the frustrations and rejections they experience in their quests for medical knowledge and discovery. This is a book for everyone to enjoy, whatever their interests." -- Barbara B. Frank, M.D., FACG, Professor of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Introductionp. 1
Hippocrates: A Principle and a Methodp. 7
Herophilus and Erasistratus: The Light That Failedp. 13
Marcus Varro: The Germ of an Ideap. 18
Soranus: The Birthing Doctorp. 23
Galen of Pergamon: Combative Geniusp. 29
The Enlightened Mind of Abu Bakr al-Razip. 36
Ibn al-Nafis: Galen's Nemesisp. 41
Paracelsus: Renaissance Rebelp. 46
Andreas Vesalius: Driven to Dissectionp. 53
Johann Weyer: A Voice of Sanity in an Insane Worldp. 61
William Harvey and the Movements of the Heartp. 69
Edward Jenner: A Friend of Humanityp. 76
Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On: The Discovery of Anesthesiap. 83
Antisepsis: Awakening from a Nightmarep. 95
The Quiet Dr. Snowp. 101
Pasteur and the Germ Theory of Diseasep. 109
Out of the Corner of His Eye: Roentgen Discovers X-raysp. 118
Sigmund Freud's Dynamic Unconsciousp. 125
Beyond Bacteria: Ivanovsky's Discovery of Virusesp. 134
The Prepared Mind of Alexander Flemingp. 141
Margaret Sanger and the Pillp. 147
Organ Transplantation: A Legacy of Lifep. 157
A Baby's Cry: The Birth of In Vitro Fertilizationp. 166
Humanity Eradicates a Disease - Smallpox - for the First Timep. 175
Cannibals, Kuru, and Mad Cows: A New Kind of Plaguep. 183
Self, Nonself, and Danger: Deciphering the Immune Systemp. 190
Discovery Can't Wait: Deciding the Human Genomep. 199
Into the Futurep. 209
References and Further Readingp. 216
Indexp. 226
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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