A wonderfully humorous - and decidedly unorthodox (!) history of medicine from Hippocrates to the present. Delightfully witty and richly informative, this new book by the author of the classic Doctor in the House is a collection of anecdotes describing how the historical breakthroughs in medicine were really made. Using hilarious stories, based on ...
A wonderfully humorous - and decidedly unorthodox (!) history of medicine from Hippocrates to the present. Delightfully witty and richly informative, this new book by the author of the classic Doctor in the House is a collection of anecdotes describing how the historical breakthroughs in medicine were really made. Using hilarious stories, based on actual facts, Gordon shows that most monumental discoveries were originally accidents. The microscope, for instance, was accidentally invented when Antony van Leeuwenhoek, a seventeenth-century Dutch optician, got two lenses stuck in a tube; he became the first man to see his own spermatozoa. Doctors had traditionally placed their ears on a patient's chest to listen to the heartbeat; faced with an unusually buxom patient, Dr. Rene Laennec modestly insisted on using a rolled-up sheet of paper, thus creating the stethoscope. Modern surgery was invented by gunpowder; when bows and arrows were superseded by powder and shot in the fifteenth century, the human damage it wreaked caused major advances in surgical technique. And if the illnesses were bad, the treatments were frequently worse. Did you know that the following cures were once thought to be infallible: Warts. Touch each wart with a separate pebble, put pebbles in a bag, drop bag on way to church, finder will receive your warts... Mumps. Put patient in a donkey's halter and lead him around the pigsty. Repeat three times... Whooping cough. Drink water from the skull of a bishop, if available... and Hernias. At one time, castration was thought to be a cure for male hernias. A must for hypochondriacs, doctors, medical students, and anyone fascinated by the world of medicine, The AlarmingHistory of Medicine is clever, revealing - and all true. It includes sixteen pages of cartoons, photographs, and drawings.
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Publishers Weekly, 1993-12-13 Best known for his novels, particularly Doctor in the House , Gordon here presents unusual insights into medical advances. Although noting that ``Religion is of course a Good Thing, offering the valuable incidentals of saddling assertive man with someone more important than himself . . . it scuppered healing for fifteen centuries.'' That being the case, Gordon's irreverent, witty and rich florilegium of medical milestones is largely confined to the last couple of centuries. He demonstrates that many medical milestones resulted from fallacies, luck or serendipity--citing the role of barbers and warfare in promoting surgery--and that forgotten laboratory bacterial specimens led to a cholera vaccine and the discovery of penicillin. According to Gordon, Darwin, a non-doctor, ``founded genetics knowing nothing about DNA,'' and industrial chemist Pasteur stumbled on the microbes leading to pasteurization and vaccination while investigating adulterated wine and beer. The instructive, entertaining lode of superstitions and facts inludes hilarious suggested origins for the word condom and an apt takeoff on Freud treating a patient. Illustrations. (Jan.)
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