Very few of us know about the machinery and workings of the human body. In an era when most educated people are up-to-date on such questions as gene research or the male contraceptive pill, we are not at all familiar with the structure and function of our own organs. This work explains the basic equipment of the body and shows how the human ...
Very few of us know about the machinery and workings of the human body. In an era when most educated people are up-to-date on such questions as gene research or the male contraceptive pill, we are not at all familiar with the structure and function of our own organs. This work explains the basic equipment of the body and shows how the human organism constructs its own strategies for survival. In writing this, Nuland became preoccupied with a question: what is the human spirit, and how does the structure and functioning of the physical body explain it? He argues that the human spirit is as inseparable from the body as the mind is from the brain, and results from the adaptive biological mechanisms that protect our species and perpetuate our existence.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-03-24 This latest book by the author of the National Book Award-winning bestseller How We Die could have been titled How We Live. Instead, Nuland, clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, borrows a title used variously by several luminaries of a previous biomedical era (Ernest Starling, Walter B. Cannon and Sir Charles Sherrington) to conceptually encapsulate his contemporary overview of the complex, coordinated processes that sustain the body's exquisite balancing act. Into each chapter, Nuland weaves a clinical story meant to illuminate and focus the subject, and to grip the reader in a drama of the body's sometimes desperate attempts to maintain its internal balance, to stay alive. Communication is the key. "The total of the entire concatenation of constant messages and fine-tuning answers is the sum of biological life." Nuland's treatment of topics as complex as cell biology and neurophysiology is accessible, accurate and sprinkled with bits of quotable information (e.g., the body contains "two and a half square feet" of cerebral cortex, with "10 billion neurons and 60 trillion synapses"). The words "human spirit" crop up repeatedly and point to what seems to be an overarching intent of the author: to articulate a sort of rational religion of human biology, in which the wondrous workings of the body's molecules, cells and organs are viewed with proper awe, even reverence: "The unheard din of living is the symphony before which the chorale of the spirit soars in song." If Nuland occasionally gives in to hyperbole, he is so engaging and informative that he will quickly be forgiven. Illustrations not seen by PW. 200,000 first printing. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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