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The Adventures of Cancer Bitch
S. L. Wisenberg
University of Iowa Press, 2009
Wisenberg may have lost a breast, but she retained her humor, outrage, and skepticism toward common wisdom and most institutions. While following the prescribed protocols at the place she called Fancy Hospital, Wisenberg is unsparing in her descriptions of the fumblings of new doctors, her own awkward announcement to her students, and the mounds of unrecyclable plastic left at a survivors’ walk. Combining the personal with the political, she shares her research on the money spent on pink ribbons instead of preventing pollution, and the disparity in medical care between the insured and the uninsured. When chemotherapy made her bald, she decorated her head with henna swirls in front and an antiwar protest in back. During treatment, she also recorded the dailiness of life in Chicago as she rode the L, taught while one-breasted, and attended High Holiday services and a Passover seder.

Wisenberg’s writing has been compared to a mix of Leon Wieseltier and Fran Lebowitz, and in this book, she has Wieseltier’s erudition and Lebowitz’s self-deprecating cleverness: “If anybody ever offers you the choice between suffering and depression, take the suffering. And I don't mean physical suffering. I mean emotional suffering. I am hereby endorsing psychic suffering over depression.”

From The Adventures of Cancer Bitch:

I found that when you invite people to a pre-mastectomy party, they show up. Even those with small children. The kids were so young that they didn't notice that most of the food had nipples. . . . I talked to everyone—about what I'm not sure. Probably about my surgery. Everyone told me how well I looked. I felt giddy. I was going to go under, but not yet; I was going to be cut, but not yet; I was going to be bald, but not yet. As my friend who had bladder cancer says: The thing about cancer is you feel great until they start treating you for it.

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Alice Hamilton
Barbara Sicherman
University of Illinois Press, 2003
Alice Hamilton (1869-1970), a pioneer in the study of diseases of the workplace, a founder of industrial toxicology in the United States, and Harvard's first woman professor, led a long and interesting life. Always a consummate professional, she was also a prominent social reformer whose interest in the environmental causes of disease and in promoting equitable living conditions developed during her years as a resident at Jane Addams's Hull-House.
This legendary figure now comes to life in an integrated work of biography and letters that reveals the personal as well as the professional woman. In documenting Hamilton's evolution from a childhood of privilege to a life of social advocacy, the volume opens a window on women reformers and their role in Progressive Era politics and reform. Because Hamilton was a keen observer and vivid writer, her letters--more than 100 are included here--bring an unmatched freshness and immediacy to a range of subjects, such as medical education; personal relationships and daily life at Hull House; the women's peace movement; struggles for the protection of workers' health; academic life at Harvard; politics and civil liberties during the cold war; and the process of growing old. Her story takes the reader from the Gilded Age to the Vietnam War.

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Andreas Vesalius
Anatomy and the World of Books
Sachiko Kusukawa
Reaktion Books, 2024
A revisionist biography of Andreas Vesalius—the father of modern anatomy—as deeply shaped by Renaissance culture.
In 1543 the young and ambitious physician Andreas Vesalius published one of the most famous books in the history of medicine, On the Fabric of the Human Body. While we often think of dissection as destroying the body, Vesalius believed that it helped him understand how to construct the human body. In this book, Sachiko Kusukawa shows how Vesalius’s publication emerged from the interplay of Renaissance art, printing technology, and classical tradition. She challenges the conventional view of Vesalius as a proto-modern, anti-authoritarian father of anatomy through a more nuanced account of how Vesalius exploited cultural and technological developments to create a big and beautiful book that propelled him into imperial circles and secured his enduring fame.

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Anthony Cerami
A Life in Translational Medicine
Conrad Keating
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Since the turn of the new millennium, ‘translational research’, the scientific process of bringing disease-targeted knowledge from the laboratory to treat patients in the clinic, has gone mainstream and is now practiced by large universities and institutes across the globe.  Into this dynamic of the rapidly changing world of translational medical research this book sets the life of one of the discipline’s most influential practitioners, Anthony Cerami. His work spans more than five decades and culminated in the discovery, invention and development of diagnostics and therapeutics used daily by millions of people. Students in molecular medicine and investigators pursuing basic science in the hope of improving human health will find inspiration in examining the sacrifices and achievements of Cerami’s career in translational medicine. During his three decades at Rockefeller University his cross-disciplinary and laboratory-without-wall approach established ‘rational drug design’ as the most effective means of advancing the fields of parasitology, hematology, immunology, metabolism, therapeutics and molecular medicine. Cerami’s story and that of the evolution of translation are intimately entwined: the contours of Cerami’s career shaped by developments in translation, and in exchange, the field itself molded by Cerami’s work.  To understand one is to understand the other. By examining the life of this often overlooked biochemist it is possible to intimately focus on the ideas and thought processes of a scientist who has helped to define the great acceleration in translational research over the past half century – research that, knowingly or otherwise, has most likely affected the life of almost everyone on the planet.  We also gain a better understanding of the febrile creative atmosphere that percolated through the laboratories leading the way in translational medicine, and gain insight into the art, science, successes, failures and providence that underlie major scientific breakthroughs.  Anybody interested in the questions of where modern medicines come from, how health outcomes around the globe are affected by research and imagination, and where the future of drug discovery is leading, will be rewarded by exploring Cerami’s life in translation.  This book is not restricted to those with a professional interest in science, because anyone dedicated to living a life of creativity and discovery will be rewarded by reading this book.  In many respects, Cerami’s life reflects the modern metaphor of the ‘American dream’ with his journey from humble beginnings on a chicken farm in rural New Jersey, to occupying a place in  the highest echelons of the US scientific establishment.  His journey in translational medicine was propelled forward by two obsessions; the idea that he could help people who were sick, and the excitement of discovery. In following his two great passions, he trained a generation of specialists in translational medicine that continue to transform our understanding of, and treatments for, human disease.  Anthony Cerami’s work has shown how science has become an important force for social change by laying the foundations of modern translational medicine.

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As Wolves upon a Sheep Fold
The Civil War Letters of Ohio Surgeon William S. Newton
Aaron Purcell
University of Tennessee Press, 2022

William S. Newton (1823–1882) served the Union primarily as an assistant surgeon with the 91st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, but also spent a few months as acting surgeon with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry (US). Toward the end of the war, he was promoted to surgeon for the 193rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Newton’s units fought in the Appalachian Highlands, mostly in Virginia and West Virginia. He treated wounded soldiers after significant battles including Opequon and Cedar Creek. In May 1864, following the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders captured Newton and other medical personnel. After three weeks, Newton and his fellow prisoners were given the option of either treating Confederate soldiers or going to Libby Prison; they chose the latter. Newton spent only three days at Libby Prison before being released, but the experience took a significant toll on his health.

The letters in this volume, addressed mostly to Newton’s wife, Frances, provide a window into fighting in the Appalachian borderlands, where the differences between battle, guerilla warfare, and occupation were often blurred. As a noncombatant, the doctor observed life beyond troop movements and the brutality of war. Newton’s detailed letters cover his living quarters, race relations, transportation and communication, the comfort of a good meal, and the antics of his teenage son Ned. This book provides new insights into the medical and social history of the war, the war in Western Virginia, local and regional history, the perspective of a noncombatant, life on the home front, and the porous lines between home and battlefront.


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Because We Must
A Memoir
Tracy Youngblom
University of Massachusetts Press, 2025

On March 16th, 2015, Tracy Youngblom was rushing to finish last-minute preparations for a class she would teach the next day when there was an unexpected knock at her door. Grudgingly, she answered it to find a uniformed officer standing on her front porch. Youngblom realized then that her youngest son Elias should have been arriving home from a trip to Fargo where he was visiting friends at North Dakota State University. The officer told her that Elias had been in an accident and was in the hospital.  Later, she learned that his car had been struck nearly head on by a drunk driver going 70 miles per hour. Denial and shock took over as she made the long drive from their home in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. When she saw Elias in the ICU—swollen beyond recognition, covered in stitches, with a myriad of tubes attached to him— the full gravity of the situation descended.

On the day of the crash, Elias had been driving back to Coon Rapids to celebrate National Ice Cream Day with friends. An avid lover of music, he’d been working as a conductor while wrapping up his degree, moving toward his dream of becoming a marching band director. After the accident, Elias begins his long journey of recovery, which is set back when doctors announce that his optic nerves are dead. Despite it all, Elias never wavers, approaching each challenge with resilience, grace, and humor.

Alongside Elias, Youngblom faces her own challenges, staying by his side in the ICU for weeks, coordinating with other family members and friends, and never flagging in her care of her severely injured son, yet all the while coping with her own emotions, fears, and trauma. She struggles to support Elias, heal her self, and let him go on with his life. In this riveting memoir, Youngblom traverses her family’s lives before and after the accident, capturing the complications of grief, recovery, and the strength it takes to move forward—because we must.


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The Body Alone
A Lyrical Articulation of Chronic Pain
Nina Lohman
University of Iowa Press, 2024
The Body Alone is an inquiry into the experience, meaning, and articulation of pain. It is a personal hybrid account incorporating research, scholarship, and memoir to examine chronic pain through the multi-lens of medicine, theology, and philosophy. Broken bodies tell broken stories. Nina Lohman’s pain experience is portrayed through a cyclical narrative of primers, vocabulary lessons, prescription records, and hypothesized internal monologues—fractured not for the sake of experimentation but because the story itself demands it.

In both form and content, The Body Alone represents boundary-pressing work that subverts the traditional narrative by putting pressure on the medical, cultural, and political systems that impact women’s access to fair and equal healthcare. This is more than an illness narrative, it is a battle cry demanding change.

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The Bone Doctor's Concerto
Music, Surgery, and the Pieces in Between
Alvin Crawford
University of Cincinnati Press, 2023
The story of one of Cincinnati’s most influential leaders in medicine.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1939, Dr. Alvin Crawford grew up and attended medical school in a segregated world. Beginning with his early life in Orange Mound—a self-contained community for freed slaves established in the 1890s—Crawford’s autobiography describes his flirtation with a music degree and time spent playing in jazz bands through the segregated South. In 1960, Crawford began his ground-breaking medical career with his entrance into the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, becoming the school’s first African American student. After completing his medical training and traveling the world as a surgeon for the Navy, Crawford found himself in Cincinnati, where he established the Comprehensive Pediatric Orthopedic Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the first in the region.
Underlying this story are the systemic and very personal incidents of racism Crawford experienced throughout his career. His autobiography is a personal account of segregation, integration, ambition, hard work, and taking risks.

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The Caring Physician
The Life of Dr. Francis W. Peabody
Oglesby Paul
Harvard University Press
Francis W. Peabody entered medical school in 1903 and almost at once was recognized as an extraordinary human being. After a varied and exciting indoctrination in his profession, including responsibility for children ill with the dreaded poliomyelitis, an extensive medical trip to China, and an unintended role in the start of the Bolshevik Russian Revolution, he became the enormously successful chief of a new Harvard unit at the Boston City Hospital. The expectations for a long productive life were snuffed out by cancer six years later when he was only forty-five. Gifted in many spheres and possessed of great courage, his especial compassion and wisdom in patient care have made Peabody’s short life an inspiring legend for all time, an essential message for anyone who practices medicine, and an uplifting experience for any patient.

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A Chancellor's Tale
Transforming Academic Medicine
Ralph Snyderman, MD
Duke University Press, 2016
During his fifteen years as chancellor, Dr. Ralph Snyderman helped create new paradigms for academic medicine while guiding the Duke University Medical Center through periods of great challenge and transformation. Under his leadership, the medical center became internationally known for its innovations in medicine, including the creation of the Duke University Health System—which became a model for integrated health care delivery—and the development of personalized health care based on a rational and compassionate model of care. In A Chancellor's Tale Snyderman reflects on his role in developing and instituting these changes.
Beginning his faculty career at Duke in 1972, Snyderman made major contributions to inflammation research while leading the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology. When he became chancellor in 1989, he learned that Duke’s medical center required bold new capabilities to survive the advent of managed care and HMOs. The need to change spurred creativity, but it also generated strong resistance. 
Among his many achievements, Snyderman led ambitious institutional growth in research and clinical care, broadened clinical research and collaborations between academics and industry, and spurred the fields of integrative and personalized medicine. Snyderman describes how he immersed himself in all aspects of Duke’s medical enterprise as evidenced by his exercise in "following the sheet" from the patient's room to the laundry facilities and back, which allowed him to meet staff throughout the hospital. Upon discovering that temperatures in the laundry facilities were over 110 degrees he had air conditioning installed. He also implemented programs to help employees gain needed skills to advance. Snyderman discusses the necessity for strategic planning, fund-raising, and media relations and the relationship between the medical center and Duke University. He concludes with advice for current and future academic medical center administrators.
The fascinating story of Snyderman's career shines a bright light on the importance of leadership, organization, planning, and innovation in a medical and academic environment while highlighting the systemic changes in academic medicine and American health care over the last half century. A Chancellor's Tale will be required reading for those interested in academic medicine, health care, administrative and leadership positions, and the history of Duke University.

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Charles A. Janeway
Pediatrician to the World’s Children
Robert J. Haggerty and Frederick H. Lovejoy, Jr.
Harvard University Press, 2007

This biography of one of the most prominent pediatricians of the twentieth century describes his illustrious medical family and his remarkable tenure of nearly three decades as Thomas Morgan Rotch Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and head of the department of medicine at Children's Hospital, Boston. During this period Janeway built the first department of pediatrics in the nation with subspecialties based upon the new developments in basic sciences. Janeway and his colleagues defined the gamma globulin disorders that resulted in children's increased susceptibility to infections and associated arthritic disorders.

Janeway was the most visible U.S. pediatrician on the world scene in the last half of the 20th century. He traveled widely, taught modern pediatrics to thousands of physicians throughout the developing world, and brought many of them to the U.S. for further training. He was instrumental in starting teaching hospitals in Shiraz, Iran, and Cameroon.

Janeway believed that through teaching by example he might further the cause of peace in the world. His life is an inspiration to everyone in medicine, and serves as a model that all can seek to improve the health of the world's millions and promote a more peaceful future.


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Clifford W. Beers
Advocate for the Insane
Norman Dain
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980
Norman Dain offers a compelling biography of Clifford W. Beers, whose lifelong battle against his own mental illness inspired him to become a champion for mental health. Beers' autobiography, A Mind That Found Itself, created a public outcry in 1908, as it chronicled Beers' experiences during his three-year confinement in an asylum. Despite his disability, Beers went on to found the National Committee for Mental Hygiene (now the National Association for Mental Health), the American Foundation for Mental Hygiene, and the International Committee for Mental Hygiene.

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Constance Pascal (1877–1937)
Authority, Femininity and Feminism in French Psychiatry
Felicia Gordon
University of London Press, 2014
Constance Pascal’s career in French psychiatry from 1908 to 1937 exemplifies the opportunities open to women in the French Third Republic as well as the prejudices they encountered. As the first woman psychiatrist in France, Pascal, of Romanian origin, attained professional success at the cost of suppressing her personal life. Best known for her work on dementia praecox, she founded one of the first schools in France for children with severe learning difficulties, and made remarkable contributions in the reform of asylum practices and, influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis, in psychotherapeutic intervention. Her feminism is demonstrated by her distinguished, often contentious, career in a hitherto all male profession and by her support for other women in their professional roles. Her unjustly neglected life story illuminates many of the conflicts experienced by women entering the professions during the belle époque and the inter-war years. The study’s scholarly authority and ambitious theoretical range do not detract from its lively sense of the person and life struggles of the subject making this a fine demonstration of life history research enthralling for the general reader and expert alike.

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Doctor George
An Account of the Life of a Country Doctor
George T. Mitchell, M.D. Foreword by Glen W. Davidson
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993

Dr. George T. Mitchell of Marshall, Illinois, shares with humor and compassion stories and reflections about his medical practice of fifty years.

Having grown up in Marshall, Dr. Mitchell writes of his early experiences in midwestern America: basketball rivalries, school-boy pranks, and the traditions passed down through a family of doctors. Dr. Mitchell tells of his brief detour to obtain a degree in mechanical engineering, his decision to pursue a career in medicine, and his medical school experiences at the George Washington School of Medicine before the days of antibiotics and sophisticated medical technology. He vividly describes his subsequent service in World War II as a young surgeon at a military hospital helping injured soldiers resume normal lives while enduring the frustrations and occasional horrors of military life.

After the war, Dr. Mitchell joined his father’s practice in Marshall, where, he observes, he was among sixteen physicians in a rural county with a population of less than twenty thousand people. Within twenty-five years, the number of doctors had dropped to only four. In this memoir Dr. Mitchell conveys his unwillingness to just sit by and watch the health needs of his community increase while medical and other services decline. He, instead, became a community activist, representing rural concerns to the state medical society, organizing the first emergency medical technician teams in the county, masterminding the planning of a regional medical center, campaigning successfully for improved highway safety, and spurring the extension of reliable telephone service throughout his area.

As Dr. Mitchell recounts the house calls, farm accidents, emergency surgeries, and family counseling that comprised the life of this country doctor, he offers the keen insights of a clinician trained to look beyond what others only see.


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Donald Seldin
The Maestro of Medicine
By Raymond S. Greenberg
University of Texas Press, 2020

No one would have blamed Donald Seldin for running away. When he arrived at Southwestern Medical College in 1951, it was a collection of hastily repurposed military shacks creaking in the wind. On practically day one he became chair of the department of medicine—when the only other full-time professors departed.

By the time he stepped down thirty-six years later, Seldin had transformed a sleepy medical college into the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center—a powerhouse of research and patient care and an anchor of the city of Dallas. Raymond Greenberg, a physician-scholar, tells Seldin's story of perseverance and intellectual triumph. Drawing on interviews with Seldin's trainees and colleagues—and on Seldin's own words—Greenberg chronicles the life of the Brooklyn boy who became one of Texas's foremost citizens and taught decades of men and women to heal. A pioneering nephrologist, Seldin devoted his career to developing the specialty; educating students, residents, and fellows; caring for patients; and nurturing basic research.

Seldin was a wildcatter in the best sense. He declined the comfortable prestige of Harvard and Yale and instead embraced a worthy challenge with an unflagging sense of mission. Graceful and richly detailed, The Maestro of Medicine captures an inspiring life of achievement and service.


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The Door of Last Resort
Memoirs of a Nurse Practitioner
Ward, Frances
Rutgers University Press, 2013
Having spent decades in urban clinical practice while working simultaneously as an academic administrator, teacher, and writer, Frances Ward is especially well equipped to analyze the American health care system. In this memoir, she explores the practice of nurse practitioners through her experiences in Newark and Camden, New Jersey, and in north Philadelphia.

Ward views nurse practitioners as important providers of primary health care (including the prevention of and attention to the root causes of ill health) in independent practice and as equal members of professional teams of physicians, registered nurses, and other health care personnel. She describes the education of nurse practitioners, their scope of practice, their abilities to prescribe medications and diagnostic tests, and their overall management of patients’ acute and chronic illnesses. Also explored are the battles that nurse practitioners have waged to win the right to practice—battles with physicians, health insurance companies, and even other nurses.

The Door of Last Resort
, though informed by Ward’s experiences, is not a traditional memoir. Rather, it explores issues in primary health care delivery to poor, urban populations from the perspective of nurse practitioners and is intended to be their voice. In doing so, it investigates the factors affecting health care delivery in the United States that have remained obscure throughout the current national debate

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Dr. Charles David Spivak
A Jewish Immigrant and the American Tuberculosis Movement
Jeanne Abrams
University Press of Colorado, 2009
Part biography, part medical history, and part study of Jewish life in turn-of-the-century America, Jeanne Abrams's book tells the story of Dr. Charles David Spivak - a Jewish immigrant from Russia who became one of the leaders of the American Tuberculosis Movement.

Born in Russia in 1861, Spivak immigrated to the United States in 1882 and received his medical degree from Philadelphia's Jefferson Medical College by 1890. In 1896, his wife's poor health brought them to Colorado. Determined to find a cure, Spivak became one of the most charismatic and well-known leaders in the American Tuberculosis Movement. His role as director of Denver's Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society sanatorium allowed his personal philosophies to strongly influence policies. His unique blend of Yiddishkeit, socialism, and secularism - along with his belief in treating the "whole" patient - became a model for integrating medical, social, and rehabilitation services that was copied across the country.

Not only a national leader in the crusade against tuberculosis but also a luminary in the American Jewish community, Dr. Charles Spivak was a physician, humanitarian, writer, linguist, journalist, administrator, social worker, ethnic broker, and medical, public health, and social crusader. Abrams's biography will be a welcome addition to anyone interested in the history of medicine, Jewish life in America, or Colorado history.


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Dr. Koop
The Many Lives of the Surgeon General
Nigel M. de S. Cameron
University of Massachusetts Press, 2025

When Ronald Reagan chose C. Everett Koop to be Surgeon General of the United States in 1981, liberal politicians, women's groups, and even the public health community opposed the nomination because of his conservative social views and strong anti-abortion beliefs. By the time he left office in 1989, the same people who had vilified him as “Dr. Kook” were singing his praises, and many conservative politicians and activists who had championed his nomination were criticizing him as a traitor. He had also become “the only surgeon general [who was] a household name,” according to the Associated Press, because of his ubiquitous media exposure   around the HIV/AIDS crisis, his unique look, and his savvy with the press. How had Koop remade himself and this once major government office, which sounded grand but in the 1960s had been stripped to a minor advisory role?

As Nigel M. de S. Cameron shows, Koop was, above all, guided in his decisions by his unwavering physician’s commitment to saving lives. Even in the face of political pressures and what many expected to be his personal beliefs, he focused on science and public health. On smoking, abortion, and AIDS he openly defied Republican politicians and alienated New Right conservatives because his reading of the science did not support their ideologies. It was this adherence to science, health, and office that led him to refuse to campaign on abortion, seek compromise on the disabled “Baby Doe” case, relentlessly go after Big Tobacco, and finally reach out to the gay community as AIDS and fear of AIDS exploded. Both supporters and detractors consistently misjudged him.

This first full biography of Koop draws on thousands of documents and hundreds of interviews with family, friends, and colleagues to tell the story of the precocious boy from Brooklyn who was already the world’s most celebrated pediatric surgeon when he became Surgeon General and one of the most recognizable public figures in late-20th century America. Koop remains a sterling example—to both left and right—of how public officials should conduct themselves.


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Eugene Braunwald and the Rise of Modern Medicine
Thomas H. Lee
Harvard University Press, 2013

Since the 1950s, the death rate from heart attacks has plunged from 35 percent to about 5 percent—and fatalistic attitudes toward this disease and many others have faded into history. Much of the improved survival and change in attitudes can be traced to the work of Eugene Braunwald, MD. In the 1960s, he proved that myocardial infarction was not a “bolt from the blue” but a dynamic process that plays out over hours and thus could be altered by treatment. By redirecting cardiology from passive, risk-averse observation to active intervention, he helped transform not just his own field but the culture of American medicine.

Braunwald’s personal story demonstrates how the forces of history affected the generation of researchers responsible for so many medical advances in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1938 Nazi occupiers forced his family to flee Vienna for Brooklyn. Because of Jewish quotas in medical schools, he was the last person admitted to his class, but went on to graduate number one. When the Doctor Draft threatened to interrupt his medical training during the Korean War, he joined the National Institutes of Health instead of the Navy, and there he began the research that made him the most influential cardiologist of his time.

In Eugene Braunwald and the Rise of Modern Medicine, Thomas H. Lee offers insights that only authoritative firsthand interviews can provide, to bring us closer to this iconic figure in modern medicine.


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A Family Practice
The Russell Doctors and the Evolving Business of Medicine, 1799-1989
William D. Lindsey
University of Arkansas Press, 2020
A Family Practice is the sweeping saga of four generations of doctors, Russell men seeking innovative ways to sustain themselves as medical practitioners in the American South from the early nineteenth to the latter half of the twentieth century. The thread that binds the stories in this saga is one of blood, of medical vocations passed from fathers to sons and nephews. This study of four generations of Russell doctors is an historical study with a biographical thread running through it.
The authors take a wide-ranging look at the meaning of intergenerational vocations and the role of family, the economy, and social issues on the evolution of medical education and practice in the United States.

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Final Negotiations
A Story of Love, Loss, and Chronic Illness
Carolyn Ellis
Temple University Press, 2018
In this revised and expanded edition of Final Negotiations—a personal account of caring for her partner, Gene Weinstein, and then coping with losing him to chronic emphysema— Ellis reflects back on her experiences as a caregiver, focusing on identity, vulnerability, emotions, and the aging process of an engaged academic. Now, decades later, she reconsiders who she was then, and how she has continued to be affected both by these events and by writing about them. She contemplates how she might act, think, and feel if she were going through the caregiving process again, now.

Taking an autoethnographic perspective, Ellis focuses on her feeling and thinking self in relationships, narrating particular lived experiences that offer a gateway into understanding interpersonal and cultural life. In her new epilogue, “From New Endings to New Beginnings,” Ellis describes her changed identity and how Final Negotiations informs her life and her understanding of how she and her current partner grow older together. She hopes her book provides companionship and comfort to readers who also will suffer loss in their lives.

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Frederick Novy and the Development of Bacteriology in Medicine
Kazanjian, Powel H
Rutgers University Press, 2017
At the turn of the twentieth century, Frederick Novy was the leader among a new breed of full-time bacteriologists at American medical schools. Although historians have examined bacteriologic work done in American health department laboratories, there has been little examination of similar work completed within U.S. medical schools during this period.
In Frederick Novy and the Development of Bacteriology in Medicine, medical historian, medical researcher, and clinician Powel H. Kazanjian uses Novy’s archived letters, laboratory notebooks, lecture notes, and published works to examine medical research and educational activities at the University of Michigan and other key medical schools during a formative period in modern medical science.

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Frontier Doctor
Observations on Central Oregon and the Changing West
Urling C. Coe
Oregon State University Press, 1996

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Frontier Doctor
William Beaumont, America's First Great Medical Scientist
Reginald Horsman
University of Missouri Press, 1996

In Frontier Doctor, Reginald Horsman provides the first modern, scholarly biography of a colorful backwoods doctor whose pioneering research on human digestion gained him international renown as a physiologist. Before William Beaumont's work, there was still considerable controversy as to the nature of human digestion; his research established beyond a doubt that digestion is a chemical process.

Beaumont received his medical training as an apprentice in a small town in Vermont and served as a surgeon's mate in the War of 1812. After the war, he practiced in Plattsburgh, New York, before making his career as an army surgeon. His chance for fame came in 1822, when he was serving at the lonely post of Fort Mackinac in Michigan Territory. A Canadian voyageur--Alexis St. Martin--was accidentally shot in the stomach at close range, and his wound healed in such a way as to leave a permanent opening. This enabled Beaumont to insert food directly into the stomach, to siphon gastric juice, and to experiment on the process of digestion both inside and outside the stomach.

Because Beaumont had considerable difficulty in persuading St. Martin to stay with him so he could continue his research, his study was carried out sporadically over a number of years. In the early 1830s, with the support of Joseph Lovell, the surgeon general of the army, Beaumont and St. Martin went to the East Coast, where additional experiments were carried out. In 1833, Beaumont published Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion, a book based upon his research on St. Martin and the work upon which his reputation primarily rests. His observations revealed more about digestion in the human stomach than had ever before been known, and his work was immediately praised in both the United States and Europe.

After he left the army, Beaumont established a successful private practice in St. Louis, Missouri, where he spent the latter part of his life. Beaumont, a fascinating, argumentative character, was often engaged in public controversy. He was also good friends with several notable men, including the young Robert E. Lee.

Frontier Doctor sheds welcome new light on the state of medicine both inside and outside the army in the early nineteenth century and provides absorbing information on the early experi-ments that set the research into human digestion irrevocably on the right course.


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Genius Belabored
Childbed Fever and the Tragic Life of Ignaz Semmelweis
Theodore G. Obenchain
University of Alabama Press, 2016
The fascinating story of Ignaz Semmelweis, a nineteenth-century obstetrician ostracized for his strident advocacy of disinfection as a way to prevent childbed fever

In Genius Belabored: Childbed Fever and the Tragic Life of Ignaz Semmelweis, Theodore G. Obenchain traces the life story of a nineteenth-century Hungarian obstetrician who was shunned and marginalized by the medical establishment for advancing a far-sighted but unorthodox solution to the appalling mortality rates that plagued new mothers of the day.
In engrossing detail, Obenchain recreates for readers the sights, smells, and activities within a hospital of that day. In an era before the acceptance of modern germ science, physicians saw little need for cleanliness or hygiene. As a consequence, antiseptic measures were lax and rudimentary. Especially vulnerable to contamination were new mothers, who frequently contracted and died from childbed fever (puerperal fever). Genius Belabored follows Semmelweis’s awakening to the insight that many of these deaths could be avoided with basic antiseptic measures like hand washing.
The medical establishment, intellectually unprepared for Semmelweis’s prescient hypothesis, rejected it for a number of reasons. It was unorthodox and went against the lingering Christian tradition that the dangers of childbirth were inherent to the lives of women. Complicating matters, colleagues did not consider Semmelweis an easy physician to work with. His peers described him as strange and eccentric. Obenchain offers an empathetic and insightful argument that Semmelweis suffered from bipolar disorder and illuminates how his colleagues, however dedicated to empirical science they might have been, misjudged Semmelweis’s methods based upon ignorance and their emotional discomfort with him.
In Genius Belabored, Obenchain identifies Semmelweis’s rightful place in the pantheon of scientists and physicians whose discoveries have saved the lives of millions. Obenchain’s biography of Semmelweis offers unique insights into the practice of medicine and the mindsets of physicians working in the premodern era. This fascinating study offers much of interest to general readers as well as those interested in germ theory, the history of medicine and obstetrics, or anyone wishing to better understand the trajectory of modern medicine.

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God's Waiting Room
Racial Reckoning at Life's End
Casey Golomski
Rutgers University Press, 2025
Can older racists change their tune, or will they haunt us further once they're gone? Rich in mystery and life’s lessons, God’s Waiting Room: Racial Reckoning at Life’s End considers what matters in the end for older white adults and the younger Black nurses who care for them. An innovation in creative nonfiction, Casey Golomski’s story of her years of immersive research at a nursing home in South Africa, thirty years after the end of apartheid, is narrated as a one-day, room-by-room tour. The story is told in breathtakingly intimate and witty conversations with the home’s residents and nurses, including the untold story of Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison nurse, and readers learn how ageism, sexism, and racism intersect and impact health care both in South Africa and in the United States, as well as create conditions in which people primed to be enemies find grace despite the odds.

For copyright reasons, this edition is not available in the South African Development Community and Kenya.

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Good Medicine, Hard Times
Memoir of a Combat Physician in Iraq
Edward P. Horvath, MD
The Ohio State University Press, 2022
Good ​Medicine, Hard Times is the moving memoir of one of the most senior-ranking combat physicians to have served on the battlefields of the second Iraq war. Former US Army Colonel Edward P. Horvath, MD, brings readers through the intricacies of war as he relates stories of working to save the lives of soldiers, enemies, and civilians alike and shares the moral dilemmas faced by medical professionals during war. Enlisting in the Army as a fifty-nine-year-old physician, Dr. Horvath knew that he had a greater calling in life: to save the “neighbor’s kid”—no matter who that neighbor or the kid might be. Over his three deployments, he strived to do that amid cultural clashes, insurgent attacks, military controversy, and the suffering of children caught in the crossfire. In his clear-eyed, empathetic, and unforgettable accounthe shows what it means to provide compassionate care in the most trying of circumstances, always keeping in mind that every person he cares for is someone’s child.

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How I Became a Human Being
A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence
Mark O’Brien, with Gillian Kendall
University of Wisconsin Press, 2003
In September 1955 six-year-old Mark O’Brien moved his arms and legs for the last time. He came out of a coma to find himself enclosed from the neck down in an iron lung, the machine in which he would live for much of the rest of his life.
    For the first time in paperback, How I Became a Human Being is O’Brien’s account of his struggles to lead an independent life despite a lifelong disability. In 1955 he contracted polio and became permanently paralyzed from the neck down. O’Brien describes growing up without the use of his limbs, his adolescence struggling with physical rehabilitation and suffering the bureaucracy of hospitals and institutions, and his adult life as an independent student and writer. Despite his physical limitations, O’Brien crafts a narrative that is as rich and vivid as the life he led.

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A Physician's Journey with Breast Cancer
Janet R. Gilsdorf, M.D.
University of Michigan Press, 2006
To doctors, cancer means cells growing out of control; to patients, cancer means a life spinning out of control. Janet R. Gilsdorf, who writes with quiet but devastating honesty about her experience with breast cancer, offers an eye-opening glimpse, through her unique dual perspective as physician and patient, of both sides of the medical divide.
The medical system delivers cures, answers, and relief from pain to those who seek its help, but it can also offer misinformation, shattered expectations, horrible options, and inhumane consideration of the people it is supposed to serve. As Gilsdorf takes us on a journey across the terrifying landscape of cancer, she discovers that there are oases of unfathomable beauty to be found.
Inside/Outside is compelling, sometimes scary, reading as it puts us inside Gilsdorf’s skin. It ponders a vast array of profound choices most of us will be confronted with in our lives: thinking versus feeling, knowing versus not knowing, hanging on versus letting go, loving versus hating, and the immeasurable territories of life between the poles. Even as it touches on these universal human themes, ultimately Inside/Outside is a story of one person’s courage, hope, and survival in the face of terrifying odds.
Janet R. Gilsdorf, M.D., is Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, Division of Infectious Diseases, Medical School, and Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, at the University of Michigan. She is also Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Mott Children's Hospital; Director of the Cell and Molecular Biology in Pediatrics Training Program; and Director of the Haemophilus influenzae Research Laboratory.

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The Iron Rose
The Extraordinary Life of Charlotte Ross, MD
Fred Edge
University of Manitoba Press, 1992

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John M. Templeton Jr.
Physician, Philanthropist, Seeker
John M. Templeton
Templeton Press, 2008

Candidly, with a mixture of joy, poignancy, and gratitude, the chairman and president of the John Templeton Foundation reflects on the learning and growing he has experienced and the perspectives he has gained throughout his life. In so doing, he continues the legacy of his father, Sir John Templeton, who has used stories from his life to provide instruction for his children, grandchildren, and other future descendants, just as he has drawn on those stories in his many books of inspiration and guidance for the general public.

Dr. Templeton shares stories about his personal life, his career in medicine, his early involvement with philanthropy, and his commitment to the John Templeton Foundation and its mission. Events and circumstances in his youth opened him to spirituality, taught him about altruistic love, and introduced him to values he would cultivate throughout his life: thrift, saving, hard work, creativity, and responsibility.

His journey takes him from his early life in Winchester, Tennessee, to New Jersey, Yale University, medical school, the Navy, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the John Templeton Foundation. Along the way, there were lessons learned from his disruptive behavior in elementary school; the deaths of his grandmother and mother; travel to Europe, Africa, and throughout the U.S.; marriage and fatherhood; his growing commitment as a Christian; and his family's experience with an armed robbery. It continues with his experiences in pediatric surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, including work with conjoined twins; experience with the mutual fund industry and a role with the Templeton Growth Fund; an intensely rewarding medical specialty in trauma; philanthropy and fund-raising efforts, including a sad experience with fraud; the pride of professorship; and serving as chairman and president of the John Templeton Foundation.

With gratitude he credits his many mentors for the wisdom they passed on to him. Among them are John Galbraith, Dr. C. Everett Koop, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, and, of course, always and above all, his father. With appreciation, he recounts the blessings of a full and productive life that continue today as he provides leadership to the diverse programs and initiatives of the John Templeton Foundation.


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Limited by Body Habitus
An American Fat Story
Jennifer Renee Blevins
Autumn House Press, 2021
Jennifer Renee Blevins’s debut memoir, Limited by Body Habitus: An American Fat Story, sheds light on her experiences living with the emotional and psychological struggles of taking up space in a fat-phobic world. Bringing together experiences of personal and national trauma, Blevins adeptly weaves the tale of her father’s gastric bypass surgery and subsequent prolonged health crisis with the environmental catastrophe of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Blevins looks to each of these events as a “leak” of American society’s pitfalls and shortcomings. These intertwined narratives, both disasters that could have been avoided, reveal points of failure in our systems of healthcare and environmental conservation.
Incorporating pieces from her life, such as medical transcripts and quotes from news programs, Blevins composes a mosaic of our modern anxieties. Even through despair, she finds hope in mending broken relationships and shows us how we can flourish as individuals and as a nation despite our struggles. Fierce and haunting, this memoir creates a space of narrative through body, selfhood, family, and country.

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Limited by Body Habitus
An American Fat Story
Jennifer Renee Blevins
Autumn House Press, 2019
Jennifer Renee Blevins’s debut memoir, Limited by Body Habitus: An American Fat Story, sheds light on her experiences living with the emotional and psychological struggles of taking up space in a fat-phobic world. Bringing together experiences of personal and national trauma, Blevins adeptly weaves the tale of her father’s gastric bypass surgery and subsequent prolonged health crisis with the environmental catastrophe of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Blevins looks to each of these events as a “leak” of American society’s pitfalls and shortcomings. These intertwined narratives, both disasters that could have been avoided, reveal points of failure in our systems of healthcare and environmental conservation.
Incorporating pieces from her life, such as medical transcripts and quotes from news programs, Blevins composes a mosaic of our modern anxieties. Even through despair, she finds hope in mending broken relationships and shows us how we can flourish as individuals and as a nation despite our struggles. Fierce and haunting, this memoir creates a space of narrative through body, selfhood, family, and country.

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Limping through Life
A Farm Boy’s Polio Memoir
Jerry Apps
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013
Limping through Life
A Farm Boy’s Polio Memoir

Jerry Apps

“Families throughout the United States lived in fear of polio throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, and now the disease had come to our farm. I can still remember that short winter day and the chilly night when I first showed symptoms. My life would never be the same.”
—from the Introduction

Polio was epidemic in the United States starting in 1916. By the 1930s, quarantines and school closings were becoming common, as isolation was one of the only ways to fight the disease. The Sauk vaccine was not available until 1955; in that year, Wisconsin’s Fox River valley had more polio cases per capita than anywhere in the United States. In his most personal book, Jerry Apps, who contracted polio at age twelve, reveals how the disease affected him physically and emotionally, profoundly influencing his education, military service, and family life and setting him on the path to becoming a professional writer.
A hardworking farm kid who loved playing softball, young Jerry Apps would have to make many adjustments and meet many challenges after that winter night he was stricken with a debilitating, sometimes fatal illness. In Limping through Life he explores the ways his world changed after polio and pays tribute to those family members, teachers, and friends who helped him along the way.

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Listen to Me Good
The Story of an Alabama Midwife
The Ohio State University Press, 1996

Margaret Charles Smith, a ninety-one-year-old Alabama midwife, has thousands of birthing stories to tell. Sifting through nearly five decades of providing care for women in rural Greene County, she relates the tales that capture the life-and-death struggle of the birthing experience and the traditions, pharmacopeia, and spiritual attitudes that influenced her practice. She debunks images of the complacent southern “granny” midwife and honors the determination, talent, and complexity of midwifery.

Fascinating to read, this book is part of the new genre of writing that recognizes the credibility of midwives who have emerged from their own communities and were educated through apprenticeship and personal experience. Past descriptions of southern black midwives have tended to denigrate their work in comparison with professional established medicine. Believed to be the oldest living (though retired) traditional African American midwife in Alabama, Smith is one of the few who can recount old-time birthing ways. Despite claims that midwives contributed to high infant mortality rates, Smith’s story emphasizes midwives' successes in facing medical challenges and emergencies.


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Lost in Transition
Removing, Resettling, and Renewing Appalachia
Aaron D. Purcell
University of Tennessee Press, 2021

In Lost in Transition: Removing, Resettling, and Renewing Appalachia, Aaron D. Purcell presents a thematic and chronological exploration of twentieth-century removal and resettlement projects across southern Appalachia. The book shares complex stories of loss and recollection that have grown and evolved over time.

This edited volume contains seven case studies of public land removal actions in Virginia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Tennessee from the 1930s through the 1960s. Some of the removals include the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Norris Basin, Shenandoah National Park and the New River, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Keowee-Toxaway Project in northwestern South Carolina. Each essay asks key questions: How did governmental entities throughout the twentieth century deal with land acquisition and removal of families and communities? What do the oral histories of the families and communities, particularly from different generations, tell us about the legacies of these removals? This collection reveals confrontations between past and present, federal agencies and citizens, and the original accounts of removal and resettlement and contemporary interpretations. The result is a blending of practical historical concerns with contemporary nostalgia and romanticism, which often deepen the complexity of Appalachian cultural life.

Lost in Transition provides a nuanced and insightful study of removal and resettlement projects that applies critical analysis of fact, mythology, and storytelling. It illustrates the important role of place in southern Appalachian history. This collection is a helpful resource to anthropologists, folklorists, and Appalachian studies scholars, and a powerful volume of stories for all readers who reflect upon the importance of place and home.


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A Mad People’s History of Madness
Dale Peterson
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981
A man desperately tries to keep his pact with the Devil, a woman is imprisoned in an insane asylum by her husband because of religious differences, and, on the testimony of a mere stranger, “a London citizen” is sentenced to a private madhouse. This anthology of writings by mad and allegedly mad people is a comprehensive overview of the history of mental illness for the past five hundred years-from the viewpoint of the patients themselves.

Dale Peterson has compiled twenty-seven selections dating from 1436 through 1976. He prefaces each excerpt with biographical information about the writer. Peterson's running commentary explains the national differences in mental health care and the historical changes that have take place in symptoms and treatment. He traces the development of the private madhouse system in England and the state-run asylum system in the United States. Included is the first comprehensive bibliography of writings by the mentally ill.

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The Man Behind the Mask
Journey of an Orthopaedic Surgeon
Thomas H. Mallory, MD
University of Missouri Press, 2007

  The perils of aging are many, but the debilitating effects of serious illness loom large. In this stirring memoir, readers will discover a man who improved the lives of many arthritis sufferers before himself succumbing to a cruel debilitating disease. The Man behind the Mask tells the story of Thomas Mallory, who was inspired to become a doctor after undergoing surgery for a high school football injury. He went on to become a renowned surgeon and a pioneer in joint replacement. In 2002, his successful career came to an abrupt halt when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

            Mallory was one of the first surgeons in the United States to see the potential for joint replacement technology, and in this memoir he describes not only the nuances of introducing hip replacement surgery but also the systems that he established to make it a highly successful operation. He tells how he overcame initial resistance to the procedure and became a respected teacher of the technology, training many surgeons who went on to successful careers, lecturing about his procedure around the world, and also seeing VIP patients who journeyed to Ohio just to be operated on by him.

            As a pioneer in this type of operation, Mallory first recognized the value of using prosthetic innovation and development. He became a proponent of modularity in joint replacement surgery, which allowed a surgeon to customize a prosthesis to a patient’s joint in the operating room. His innovations, along with those of Dr. William Head, resulted in the introduction in 1983 of the Mallory-Head Hip System—a technology still in use today and one that has offered relief to thousands of patients.

            Tracing the joys and sorrows of his own career, Mallory dispels the myth that surgeons are emotionally invulnerable and cold. He offers his perspective on the pursuit of medicine as a profession, on the doctor-patient relationship, and on litigious challenges to physicians. He also commends the benefits of family and leisure and the blessing of life in general while offering insight into the management of an incurable disease.

            In our skeptical era, Thomas Mallory is a shining example of a prominent scientist who has maintained his faith in God throughout the highs and lows of life. The Man behind the Mask is an inspiring account for fellow professionals and general readers, as well as for those who have benefited from the procedures he introduced.


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Marie Equi
Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions
Michael Helquist
Oregon State University Press, 2015
Marie Equi explores the fiercely independent life of an extraordinary woman. Born of Italian-Irish parents in 1872, Marie Equi endured childhood labor in a gritty Massachusetts textile mill before fleeing to an Oregon homestead with her first longtime woman companion, who described her as impulsive, earnest, and kind-hearted. These traits, along with courage, stubborn resolve, and a passion for justice, propelled Equi through an unparalleled life journey.  

Equi self-studied her way into a San Francisco medical school and then obtained her license in Portland to become one of the first practicing woman physicians in the Pacific Northwest. From Pendleton, Portland, Seattle and beyond to Boston and San Francisco, she leveraged her professional status to fight for woman suffrage, labor rights, and reproductive freedom. She mounted soapboxes, fought with police, and spent a night in jail with birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. Equi marched so often with unemployed men that the media referred to them as her army. She battled for economic justice at every turn and protested the U.S. entry into World War I, leading to a conviction for sedition and a three-year sentence in San Quentin. Breaking boundaries in all facets of life, she became the first well-known lesbian in Oregon, and her same-sex affairs figured prominently in two U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Marie Equi is a finely written, rigorously researched account of a woman of consequence, who one fellow-activist considered “the most interesting woman that ever lived in this state, certainly the most fascinating, colorful, and flamboyant.” This much anticipated biography will engage anyone interested in Pacific Northwest history, women’s studies, the history of lesbian and gay rights, and the personal demands of political activism. It is the inspiring story of a singular woman who was not afraid to take risks, who refused to compromise her principles in the face of enormous opposition and adversity, and who paid a steep personal price for living by her convictions.

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Masks, Misinformation, and Making Do
Appalachian Health-Care Workers and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Wendy Welch
Ohio University Press, 2023

The firsthand pandemic experiences of rural health-care providers—who were already burdened when COVID-19 hit—raise questions about the future of public health and health-care delivery.

This volume comprises the COVID-19 pandemic experiences of Appalachian health-care workers, including frontline providers, administrators, and educators. The combined narrative reveals how governmental and corporate policies exacerbated the region’s injustices, stymied response efforts, and increased the death toll.

Beginning with an overview of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its impact on the body, the essays in the book’s first section provide background material and contextualize the subsequent explosion of telemedicine, the pandemic’s impact on medical education, and its relationship to systemic racism and related disparities in mental health treatment.

Next, first-person narratives from diverse perspectives recount the pandemic’s layered stresses, including

  • the scramble for ventilators, masks, and other personal protective equipment
  • the neighbors, friends, and family members who flouted public-health mandates, convinced that COVID-19 was a hoax
  • the added burden the virus leveled on patients whose health was already compromised by cancer, diabetes, or addiction
  • the acute ways the pandemic’s arrival exacerbated interpersonal and systemic racism that Black and other health-care workers of color bear
  • not only the battle against the virus but also the growing suspicion and even physical abuse from patients convinced that doctors and nurses were trying to kill them

These visceral, personal experiences of how Appalachian health-care workers responded to the pandemic amid the nation’s deeply polarized political discourse will shape the historical record of this “unprecedented time” and provide a glimpse into the future of rural medicine.

Contributors: Lucas Aidukaitis, Clay Anderson, Tammy Bannister, Alli Delp, Lynn Elliott, Monika Holbein, Laura Hungerford, Nikki King, Brittany Landore, Jeffrey J. LeBoeuf, Sojourner Nightingale, Beth O’Connor, Rakesh Patel, Mildred E. Perreault, Melanie B. Richards, Tara Smith, Kathy Osborne Still, Darla Timbo, Kathy Hsu Wibberly


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Medal Winners
How the Vietnam War Launched Nobel Careers
By Raymond S. Greenberg
University of Texas Press, 2020

As the ground war in Vietnam escalated in the late 1960s, the US government leveraged the so-called doctor draft to secure adequate numbers of medical personnel in the armed forces. Among newly minted physicians’ few alternatives to military service was the Clinical Associate Training Program at the National Institutes of Health. Though only a small percentage of applicants were accepted, the elite program launched an unprecedented number of remarkable scientific careers that would revolutionize medicine at the end of the twentieth century.

Medal Winners recounts this overlooked chapter and unforeseen byproduct of the Vietnam War through the lives of four former NIH clinical associates who would go on to become Nobel laureates. Raymond S. Greenberg traces their stories from their pre-NIH years and apprenticeships through their subsequent Nobel Prize–winning work, which transformed treatment of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Greenberg shows how the Vietnam draft unintentionally ushered in a golden era of research by bringing talented young physicians under the tutelage of leading scientists and offers a lesson in what it may take to replicate such a towering center of scientific innovation as the NIH in the 1960s and 1970s.


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Medicine and Modernism
A Biography of Henry Head
L. S. Jacyna
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008
This is the first in-depth study of the English neurologist and polymath Sir Henry Head (1861-1940). Head bridged the gap between science and the arts. He was a published poet who had close links with such figures as Thomas Hardy and Siegfried Sassoon. His research into the nervous system and the relationship between language and the brain broke new ground. L. S. Jacyna argues that these advances must be contextualized within wider Modernist debates about perception and language.

In his time, Head was best known for his research into the human nervous system. He did a series of experiments in collaboration with W. H. R. Rivers in which cutaneous nerves were surgically severed in Head's arm and the stages by which sensation returned were chartered over several years. Head’s friend, the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, drew out the epistemological implications of how, in this new conception, the nervous system furthered the knowledge of the world.

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Mental Traveler
A Father, a Son, and a Journey through Schizophrenia
W. J. T. Mitchell
University of Chicago Press, 2020
How does a parent make sense of a child’s severe mental illness? How does a father meet the daily challenges of caring for his gifted but delusional son, while seeking to overcome the stigma of madness and the limits of psychiatry?  W. J. T. Mitchell’s memoir tells the story—at once representative and unique—of one family’s encounter with mental illness and bears witness to the life of the talented young man who was his son.

 Gabriel Mitchell was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age twenty-one and died by suicide eighteen years later. He left behind a remarkable archive of creative work and a father determined to honor his son’s attempts to conquer his own illness. Before his death, Gabe had been working on a film that would show madness from inside and out, as media stereotype and spectacle, symptom and stigma, malady and minority status, disability and gateway to insight. He was convinced that madness is an extreme form of subjective experience that we all endure at some point in our lives, whether in moments of ecstasy or melancholy, or in the enduring trauma of a broken heart. Gabe’s declared ambition was to transform schizophrenia from a death sentence to a learning experience, and madness from a curse to a critical perspective.    

Shot through with love and pain, Mental Traveler shows how Gabe drew his father into his quest for enlightenment within madness. It is a book that will touch anyone struggling to cope with mental illness, and especially for parents and caregivers of those caught in its grasp.

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Memoirs of a Life in Medicine
William G. Anlyan, M. D.
Duke University Press, 2004
William G. Anlyan, a dedicated doctor and gifted administrator, was a leader in the transformation of Duke University Hospital from a regional medical center into one of America’s foremost biomedical research and educational institutions. Anlyan’s fifty-five-year career at Duke University spanned a period of extraordinary change in the practice of medicine. He chronicles those transformations—and his role in them—in this forthright memoir.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1925, and schooled in the British tradition, Anlyan attended Yale University as an undergraduate and medical student before coming to the relatively unknown medical school at Duke University in 1949 for an internship in general and thoracic surgery. He stayed on, first as a resident, then as a staff surgeon. By 1961, he was a full professor of surgery. In 1964, Anlyan was named dean of the medical school, the first in a series of administrative posts at the medical school and hospital. Anlyan’s role in the transformation of the Duke University Medical Center into an internationally renowned health system is manifest: he restructured the medical school and hospital and supervised the addition of almost four million square feet of new or renovated space. He hired outstanding administrators and directed a staff that instituted innovative programs and groundbreaking research centers, such as the Cancer Center and the Physician’s Assistant Program.

Anlyan describes a series of metamorphoses in his own life, in the world of medicine, in Durham, and at Duke. At the time of his prep school upbringing in Egypt, medicine was a matter of controlling infectious diseases like tuberculosis and polio. As he became an immigrant medical student and then a young surgeon, he observed vast advances in medical practice and changes in the financing of medical care. During his tenure at Duke, Durham was transformed from a sleepy mill and tobacco town into the “City of Medicine,” a place where patients routinely travel for open-heart surgery and cutting-edge treatments for cancer and other diseases.

Anyone interested in health care, medical education, and the history of Duke University will find Anlyan’s memoir of interest.


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Mikhail Bulgakov
J. A. E. Curtis
Reaktion Books, 2017
Mikhail Bulgakov (1891–1940) was one of the most popular Russian writers of the twentieth century, but many of his works were banned for decades after his death due to the extreme political repression his country enforced. Even his great novel, The Master and Margarita, was written in complete secrecy during the 1930s for fear of the writer being arrested and shot. In her revelatory new biography, J. A. E. Curtis provides a fresh account of Bulgakov’s life and work, from his idyllic childhood in Kiev to the turmoil of World War One, the Russian Revolution, and civil war.

Exploring newly available archives that have opened up following the dissolution of the USSR, Curtis draws on new historical documents in order to trace Bulgakov’s life. She offers insights on his absolute determination to establish himself as a writer in Bolshevik Moscow, his three marriages and tumultuous personal life, and his triumphs as a dramatist in the 1920s. She also reveals how he struggled to defend his art and preserve his integrity in Russia under the close scrutiny of Stalin himself, who would personally weigh in each time on whether one of his plays should be permitted or banned. Based upon many years of research and examining previously little-known letters and diaries, this is an absorbing account of the life and work of one of Russia’s most inventive and exuberant novelists and playwrights.

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The Mind is Not the Heart
Recollections of a Woman Physician
Eva J. Salber
Duke University Press, 1993
Available for the first time in paperback, Eva Salber's The Mind Is Not the Heart (originally published in 1989), is the personal and political story of a white, Jewish, South African woman who practiced medicine for over fifty years among the impoverished—both rural and urban, black and white, in South Africa and later in the United States. Her lifelong dedication to providing health care to poor people was informed by a passionate vision of the link between social problems and medicine, accompanied by an embracing involvement with the communities in which she served. In this warm clear-eyed account, Dr. Salber presents not only her own personal journey, that of a professional woman, teacher, wife, and mother, but also the story of the people on the margins of society among whom she worked.

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More than "First, Do No Harm"
Academic Global Health
Timothy R. B. Johnson
Michigan Publishing Services, 2023

Using personal experience and narrative, as well as the voices of students, trainees, and academic colleagues, this book illustrates how an initiative beginning over thirty years ago to train obstetrician-gynecologists in Ghana can serve as a model for global engagement by universities and learners at many levels. In addition to detailing a proven sustainable model for global health programs, this book highlights the ethical and moral imperatives participants should expect and demand of truly engaged academic global health. 


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Mosquito Warrior
Yellow Fever, Public Health, and the Forgotten Career of General William C. Gorgas
Carol R. Byerly
University of Alabama Press, 2024
A timely biography of General William C. Gorgas, the US Army doctor whose pioneering fight against infectious disease around the world set the stage for the American Century

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My Life in Medicine
A Hong Kong Journey
Kwok-Yung Yuen
Hong Kong University Press, 2024
A memoir from a medical hero and political advisor who faced immense public and personal challenges during SARS and the COVID-19 pandemic.

From humble beginnings in Hong Kong, Yuen Kwok-Yung rose to international prominence as a doctor, surgeon, academic, and microbiologist. As an advisor to governments, he and colleagues made discoveries that helped the world cope with unprecedented threats to public health, including the COVID-19 pandemic. In this compelling memoir, Dr. Yuen weaves personal stories with those from his extraordinary medical career to take readers on an inspiring journey about perseverance, courage, faith, and the ongoing peril of infectious diseases.

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The Notorious Astrological Physician of London
Works and Days of Simon Forman
Barbara Howard Traister
University of Chicago Press, 2000
Quack, conjurer, sex fiend, murderer—Simon Forman has been called all these things, and worse, ever since he was implicated (two years after his death) in the Overbury poisoning scandal that rocked the court of King James. But as Barbara Traister shows in this fascinating book, Forman's own unpublished manuscripts—considered here in their entirety for the first time—paint a quite different picture of the works and days of this notorious astrological physician of London.

Although he received no formal medical education, Forman built a thriving practice. His success rankled the College of Physicians of London, who hounded Forman with fines and jail terms for nearly two decades. In addition to detailing case histories of his medical practice—the first such records known from London—as well as his run-ins with the College, Forman's manuscripts cover a wide variety of other matters, from astrology and alchemy to gardening and the theater. His autobiographical writings are among the earliest English examples of their genre and display an abiding passion for reworking his personal history in the best possible light, even though they show little evidence that Forman ever intended to publish them.

Fantastic as many of Forman's manuscripts are, it is their more mundane aspects that make them such a priceless record of what daily life was like for ordinary inhabitants of Shakespeare's London. Forman's descriptions of the stench of a privy, the paralyzed limbs of a child, a lost bitch dog with a velvet collar all offer tantalizing glimpses of a world that seems at once very far away and intimately familiar. Anyone who wants to reclaim that world will enjoy this book.

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Odyssey of a Wandering Mind
The Strange Tale of Sara Mayfield, Author
Jennifer Horne
University of Alabama Press, 2024
A carefully rendered portrait of a brilliant but troubled daughter of the Old South who struggled against the conventions of gender, class, family, and ultimately of sanity, yet survived to define a creative life of her own
Sara Mayfield was born into Alabama’s governing elite in 1905 and grew up in a social circle that included Zelda Sayre, Sara Haardt, and Tallulah and Eugenia Bankhead. After winning a Goucher College short story contest judged by H. L. Mencken, Mayfield became friends with Mencken and his circle, then visited with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and hobnobbed with the literati while traveling in Europe after a failed marriage. Returning to Alabama during the Depression, she briefly managed the family landholdings before departing for New York City where she became involved in the theater. Inventing a plastic compound while working on theatrical sets, she applied for a patent and set her sights on a livelihood as an inventor and businesswoman. With the advent of World War II, Mayfield returned to her family home in Tuscaloosa where she expanded her experiments, freelanced as a journalist, and doggedly pursued a bizarre series of military and intelligence schemes, prompting temporary hospitalization. In 1945, she mingled with a host of cultural figures, including Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, and even a young John F. Kennedy, while reporting on the creation of the United Nations from Mexico and California. Back in Tuscaloosa after the war, however, she struggled to find her way with both work and family, becoming increasingly paranoid about perceived conspiracies arrayed against her. Finally, her mother and brother committed her to Bryce Hospital for the Insane, where she remained for the next seventeen years.

Throughout her life, Mayfield kept journals, wrote fiction, and produced thousands of letters while nursing the ambition that had driven her since childhood: to write and publish books. During her confinement, Mayfield assiduously recorded her experiences and her determined efforts—sometimes delusional, always savvy—to overturn her diagnosis and return to the world as a sane, independent adult. At 59, she was released from Bryce and later obtained a decree of “having been restored to sanity,” enabling her to manage her own financial affairs and to live how and where she pleased. She went on to publish noteworthy literary biographies of the Menckens and the Fitzgeralds plus a novel based on the life of Mona Lisa, finally achieving her quest to become the author of books and her own life. In Odyssey of a Wandering Mind, noted writer Jennifer Horne draws on years of research and an intimate understanding of the vast archive Sara Mayfield left behind to sensitively render Mayfield’s struggle to move through the world as the person she was—and her ultimate success in surviving to define the terms of her story.

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On the Ragged Edge of Medicine
Doctoring Among the Dispossessed
Patricia Kullberg
Oregon State University Press, 2017
On the Ragged Edge of Medicine offers a glimpse into a medical practice for the homeless and urban poor. Told through fifteen patient vignettes, and drawn from the author’s decades of experience in Portland, Oregon, this revealing memoir illuminates the impact of poverty on the delivery of health services and the ways in which people adapt and survive (or don’t survive) in conditions of abuse and deprivation. Kullberg’s stories show the direct and sometimes devastating effects of poverty on public health, poignantly demonstrating that medicine is as much a social enterprise as a scientific one.

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One Hundred Thousand Hearts
A Surgeon’s Memoir
By Denton A. Cooley
University of Texas Press, 2012

The pioneering surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley performed his first human heart transplant in 1968 and astounded the world in 1969 by conducting the first successful implantation of a totally artificial heart in a human being. Over the course of his career, Cooley and his associates performed thousands of open-heart operations and pioneered the use of new surgical procedures. Of all his achievements, however, Cooley was most proud of the Texas Heart Institute, which he founded in 1962 with a mission to use education, research, and improved patient care to decrease the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease.

In 100,000 Hearts, Cooley tells about his childhood in Houston, his education at the University of Texas, his medical-school training at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and Johns Hopkins, and his service in the Army Medical Corps. While at Johns Hopkins, Cooley assisted in a groundbreaking operation to correct an infant’s congenital heart defect, which inspired him to specialize in heart surgery.

Cooley’s detailed descriptions of working in the operating room at crucial points in medical history offer a fascinating perspective on the distance medical science traveled in just a few decades.


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The Orange Wire Problem and Other Tales from the Doctor’s Office
David Watts
University of Iowa Press, 2009
Western literature has had a long tradition of physician-writers. From Mikhail Bulgakov to William Carlos Williams to Richard Selzer to Ethan Canin, exposure to human beings at their most vulnerable has inspired fine writing. In his own inimitable and unpretentious style, David Watts is also a master storyteller. Whether recounting the decline and death of a dear friend or poking holes in the faulty logic of an insurance company underling, The Orange Wire Problem lays bare the nobility and weakness, generosity and churlishness of human nature.

With disarming candor and the audacity to admit that practicing medicine can be a crazy thing, Watts fills each page with riveting details, moving accounts, or belly-laughs.  As the stories in this work unfold, we are witness to the moral dilemmas and personal rewards of ministering to the sick. Whether the subject is the potential benefits of therapeutic deception or telling a child about death, Watts’s ear for the right word, the right tone, and the right detail never fails him.

From The Orange Wire Problem and Other Tales from the Doctor’s Office:

We were lingering in the outer office. He mentioned again, no biopsy. I knew that. And I knew there would be no chemotherapy.
    Maybe it's like that Orange Wire Problem, I said.
    Yes exactly, he said, and four years from now when we're all sitting around the campfire we'll remember the Orange Wire Problem. . .
    And I thought to myself, my brother did that. Spoke of the time ahead as he was dying of lung cancer. Six months from now he had said, we'll be glad we did all those drug therapies—as if to speak of the future laid claim to the future.

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The Pancreas and Me
My Life as a Biomedical Scientist
John A. Williams
Michigan Publishing Services, 2023

This is a personal story that weaves together the personal and professional aspects of a rewarding life in biomedical research. The book describes the education and career of John A. Williams, a leading biomedical scientist whose research focused on the exocrine pancreas and its function. It is arranged chronologically and covers Dr. Williams’ education, how he developed his interest in the pancreas, and how research on the pancreas developed over his 50 year career. It also provides insight into the state of American biomedical education, medical schools, and how research is funded and published. 

As a professor, his research was on the exocrine pancreas, its secretion of digestive enzymes, and regulation by gastrointestinal hormones. He published over 400 papers and trained over 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Dr Williams served as President of two scientific societies, the American Pancreatic Association and the American Physiological Society, and as Editor of four journals. He also founded the Pancreapedia, an open access knowledgbase about the exocrine pancreas. In addition, he taught medical and graduate students with a focus on gastrointestinal function.

While a medical student, John married his life partner, Christa Smith, and they have been together 57 years raising two children and helping with four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. John has a lifetime interest in outdoor activities, nature, and conservation. For the last decade he has been an advocate for reducing the use of fossil fuels. He is also active in the Ann Arbor Friends meeting.


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Pandemonium Logs
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 2020–2022
Ben Miller
Rutgers University Press

In 2015, Ben Miller and the poet Anne Pierson Wiese moved from New York City to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to explore their midwestern roots and to focus on their writing careers. Working a day job in a hospital, Miller had a front-row seat to the COVID-19 pandemic as it moved from the coasts to the urban Midwest. Pandemonium Logs casts an unflinching eye on the state of the worker in the US health-care system during a global pandemic, giving voice to the doctors, nurses, support staff, patients, and families caught in the complex swirl of daily dilemmas and crucial choices.

In unsparing yet sympathetic prose, Ben Miller creates an intimate portrait of the impact of COVID on the diverse people of South Dakota. Through a wide range of characters—from understandably confused patients to quietly competent nurses—he explores the human complexities of the crisis: a doctor based in Mumbai who treats critically ill patients in the Dakotas via a tenuous hodgepodge of telehealth apparatus, a Hydra of six workplace trainers who together cannot train one employee to do one job, a vice president of corporate hospitality who lives to rip down safety signs as fast as nurses post them, a ninety-year-old hospital volunteer who pushes wheelchairs containing patients half his age.

In Pandemonium Logs, Miller provides precise and moving observations of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.


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A Plague on All Our Houses
Medical Intrigue, Hollywood, and the Discovery of AIDS
Bruce J. Hillman
University Press of New England, 2016
A frightening new plague. A medical mystery. A pioneering immunologist. In A Plague on All Our Houses, Dr. Bruce J. Hillman dissects the war of egos, money, academic power, and Hollywood clout that advanced AIDS research even as it compromised the career of the scientist who discovered the disease. At the beginning of the worldwide epidemic soon to be known as AIDS, Dr. Michael Gottlieb was a young immunologist new to the faculty of UCLA Medical Center. In 1981 he was brought in to consult on a battery of unusual cases: four formerly healthy gay men presenting with persistent fever, weight loss, and highly unusual infections. Other physicians around the country had noted similar clusters of symptoms, but it was Gottlieb who first realized that these patients had a new and deadly disease. He also identified the defect in their immune system that allowed the disease to flourish. He published his findings in a now-iconic lead article in the New England Journal of Medicine—an impressive achievement for such a young scientist—and quickly became the focal point of a whirlwind of panic, envy, desperation, and distrust that played out against a glittering Hollywood backdrop. Courted by the media, the gay community, and the entertainment industry, Gottlieb emerged as the medical face of the terrifying new epidemic when he became personal physician to Rock Hudson, the first celebrity AIDS patient. With Elizabeth Taylor he cofounded the charitable foundation amfAR, which advanced public awareness of AIDS and raised vast sums for research, even as it struggled against political resistance that began with the Reagan administration and trickled down through sedimentary layers of bureaucracy. Far from supporting him, the UCLA medical establishment reacted with dismay to Gottlieb’s early work on AIDS, believing it would tarnish the reputation of the Medical Center. Denied promotion and tenure in 1987, Gottlieb left UCLA for private practice just as the National Institutes of Health awarded the institution a $10 million grant for work he had pioneered there. In the thirty-five years since the discovery of AIDS, research, prevention, and clinical care have advanced to the point that the disease is no longer the death sentence it once was. Gottlieb’s seminal article is now regarded by the New England Journal of Medicine as one of the most significant publications of its two-hundred-year history. A Plague on All Our Houses offers a ringside seat to one of the most important medical discoveries and controversies of our time.

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Plague Years
A Doctor’s Journey through the AIDS Crisis
Ross A. Slotten, MD
University of Chicago Press, 2020
In 1992, Dr. Ross A. Slotten signed more death certificates in Chicago—and, by inference, the state of Illinois—than anyone else. As a family physician, he was trained to care for patients from birth to death, but when he completed his residency in 1984, he had no idea that many of his future patients would be cut down in the prime of their lives. Among those patients were friends, colleagues, and lovers, shunned by most of the medical community because they were gay and HIV positive. Slotten wasn’t an infectious disease specialist, but because of his unique position as both a gay man and a young physician, he became an unlikely pioneer, swept up in one of the worst epidemics in modern history.

Plague Years is an unprecedented first-person account of that epidemic, spanning not just the city of Chicago but four continents as well. Slotten provides an intimate yet comprehensive view of the disease’s spread alongside heartfelt portraits of his patients and his own conflicted feelings as a medical professional, drawn from more than thirty years of personal notebooks. In telling the story of someone who was as much a potential patient as a doctor, Plague Years sheds light on the darkest hours in the history of the LGBT community in ways that no previous medical memoir has.

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Plague Years
A Doctor's Journey through the AIDS Crisis
Ross A. Slotten, MD
University of Chicago Press, 2020

This is an auto-narrated audiobook edition of this book.

In 1992, Dr. Ross A. Slotten signed more death certificates in Chicago—and, by inference, the state of Illinois—than anyone else. As a family physician, he was trained to care for patients from birth to death, but when he completed his residency in 1984, he had no idea that many of his future patients would be cut down in the prime of their lives. Among those patients were friends, colleagues, and lovers, shunned by most of the medical community because they were gay and HIV positive. Slotten wasn’t an infectious disease specialist, but because of his unique position as both a gay man and a young physician, he became an unlikely pioneer, swept up in one of the worst epidemics in modern history.

Plague Years is an unprecedented first-person account of that epidemic, spanning not just the city of Chicago but four continents as well. Slotten provides an intimate yet comprehensive view of the disease’s spread alongside heartfelt portraits of his patients and his own conflicted feelings as a medical professional, drawn from more than thirty years of personal notebooks. In telling the story of someone who was as much a potential patient as a doctor, Plague Years sheds light on the darkest hours in the history of the LGBT community in ways that no previous medical memoir has.


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Playing the Ponies and Other Medical Mysteries Solved
Stuart B. Mushlin, MD, FACP
Rutgers University Press, 2017
2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

With over forty years of experience as a sought after diagnostician, Dr. Stuart Mushlin has cracked his share of medical mysteries, ones in which there are bigger gambles than playing the ponies at the track. Some of his patients show up with puzzling symptoms, calling for savvy medical detective work. Others seem to present cut-and-dry cases, but they turn out to be suffering from rare or serious conditions.
In Playing the Ponies and Other Medical Mysteries Solved, Dr. Mushlin shares some of the most intriguing cases he has encountered, revealing the twists and turns of each patient’s diagnosis and treatment process. Along the way, he imparts the secrets to his success as a medical detective—not specialized high-tech equipment, but time-honored techniques like closely observing, touching, and listening to patients. He also candidly describes cases where he got things wrong, providing readers with honest insights into both the joys and dilemmas of his job.   
Dr. Mushlin does not just treat diseases; he treats people. And this is not just a book about the ailments he diagnosed; it is also about the scared, uncertain, ailing individuals he helped in the process. Filled with real-life medical stories you’ll have to read to believe, Playing the Ponies is both a suspenseful page-turner and a heartfelt reflection on a life spent caring for patients. 

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Prelude to Hospice
Florence Wald, Dying People, and their Families
Abel, Emily K.
Rutgers University Press, 2018
Hospices have played a critical role in transforming ideas about death and dying. Viewing death as a natural event, hospices seek to enable people approaching mortality to live as fully and painlessly as possible. Award-winning medical historian Emily K. Abel provides insight into several important issues surrounding the growth of hospice care. Using a unique set of records, Prelude to Hospice expands our understanding of the history of U.S. hospices. Compiled largely by Florence Wald, the founder of the first U.S. hospice, the records provide a detailed account of her experiences studying and caring for dying people and their families in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although Wald never published a report of her findings, she often presented her material informally. Like many others seeking to found new institutions, she believed she could garner support only by demonstrating that her facility would be superior in every respect to what currently existed. As a result, she generated inflated expectations about what a hospice could accomplish. Wald’s records enable us to glimpse the complexities of the work of tending to dying people. 

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The Puzzle People
Memoirs Of A Transplant Surgeon
Thomas Starzl
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003

Given the tensions and demands of medicine, highly successful physicians and surgeons rarely achieve equal success as prose writers.  It is truly extraordinary that a major, international pioneer in the controversial field of transplant surgery should have written a spellbinding, and heart-wrenching, autobiography.

Thomas Starzl grew up in LeMars, Iowa, the son of a newspaper publisher and a nurse.  His father also wrote science fiction and was acquainted with the writer Ray Bradbury.  Starzl left the family business to enter Northwestern University Medical School where he earned both and M.D. and a PhD.  While he was a student, and later during his surgical internship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, he began the series of animal experiments that led eventually to the world’s first transplantation of the human liver in 1963.

Throughout his career, first at the University of Colorado and then at the University of Pittsburgh, he has aroused both worldwide admiration and controversy.  His technical innovations and medical genius have revolutionized the field, but Starzl has not hesitated to address the moral and ethical issues raised by transplantation.  In this book he clearly states his position on many hotly debated issues including brain death, randomized trials for experimental drugs, the costs of transplant operations, and the system for selecting organ recipients from among scores of desperately ill patients.

There are many heroes in the story of transplantation, and many “puzzle people,” the patients who, as one journalist suggested, might one day be made entirely of various transplanted parts.  They are old and young, obscure and world famous.  Some have been taken into the hearts of America, like Stormie Jones, the brave and beautiful child from Texas.  Every patient who receives someone else’s organ - and Starzl remembers each one - is a puzzle.  “It was not just the acquisition of a new part,” he writes.  “The rest of the body had to change in many ways before the gift could be accepted.  It was necessary for the mind to see the world in a different way.”  The surgeons and physicians who pioneered transplantation were also changed: they too became puzzle people.  “Some were corroded or destroyed by the experience, some were sublimated, and none remained the same.”


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Racing to a Cure
A Cancer Victim Refuses Chemotherapy and Finds Tomorrow's Cures in Today's Scientific Laboratories
Neil Ruzic
University of Illinois Press, 2003
Racing to a Cure is not a cancer memoir. It is a cancer cure memoir. In 1998 Neil Ruzic was diagnosed with mantle-cell lymphoma, the deadliest cancer of the lymph system, whose spread is reaching epidemic levels in the U.S. and Europe. Instead of following recommended courses of chemotherapy and radiation, he took control of his treatment by investigating cures being developed in the nation's cancer-research laboratories.

Although chemotherapy harms the immune system and is increasingly demonstrated to be an ineffective long-term cure for the vast majority of cancers, it remains the standard treatment for most cancer patients. Ruzic, a former scientific magazine publisher and originator of a science center, refused to accept this status quo, and instead plunged into the world of cutting-edge treatments, exploring the frontiers of cancer science with revolutionary results.

Ruzic went on the offensive: visiting scores of laboratories, gathering information, talking to researchers, and effectively becoming his own patient-care advocate. This book presents his findings. A scathing critique of the chemotherapy culture as well as unscientific "alternative" therapies, the book endorses state-of-the-art molecularly based technologies, making it an illuminating and necessary read for anyone interested in cancer research, especially patients and their families and physicians.

Neil Ruzic was expected to die within two years of his initial diagnosis. Five years later he has been declared cancer-free and considers himself cured.


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Sister Kenny
The Woman Who Challenged the Doctors
Victor Cohn
University of Minnesota Press, 1976

Sister Kenny was first published in 1976. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Sister Elizabeth Kenny, the Australian-born nurse, is remembered by thousands of grateful parents and grandparents of young polio patients, as well as others who were less personally affected, as the woman who successfully fought the medical profession to win acceptance of her techniques to combat the crippling effects of this disease.

In this biography Victor Cohn, a prize-winning science writer, details the life of Sister Kenny and her significant role in the history of medicine. It is an inspiring story and one which will be of particular interest to those of the present generation who are engaged in the movement for women's equality. Sister Kenny's struggle against the bitter opposition of many doctors to her concepts for the treatment of polio dramatized the then common attitude of male chauvinism on the part of the medical profession toward nurses.

The biography traces Sister Kenny's life from her birth in Australia, through her early nursing career in the bush, to her rise to prominence in America. Much of the narrative focuses on her confrontation with the medical establishment. Throughout, the author writes from an objective viewpoint, and in conclusion he assesses Sister Kenny's accomplishments.


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Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery
Catherine Musemeche
Dartmouth College Press, 2014
As a pediatric surgeon, Catherine Musemeche operates on the smallest of human beings, manipulates organs the size of walnuts, and uses sutures as thin as hairs to resolve matters of life or death. Working in the small space of a premature infant’s chest or abdomen allows no margin for error. It is a world rife with emotion and risk. Small takes readers inside this rarefied world of pediatric medicine, where children and newborns undergo surgery to resolve congenital defects or correct the damages caused by accidents and disease. It is an incredibly high-stakes endeavor, nerve-wracking and fascinating. Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery is a gripping story about a still little-known frontier. In writing about patients and their families, Musemeche recounts the history of the developing field of pediatric surgery—so like adult medicine in many ways, but at the same time utterly different. This is a field guide to the state of the art and science of operating on the smallest human beings, the hurts and maladies that afflict them, and the changing nature of medicine in America today, told by an exceptionally gifted surgeon and writer.

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Spain's Cause was Mine
A Memoir of an American Medic in the Spanish War
Hank Rubin
Southern Illinois University Press, 1999

“No man ever entered earth more honorably than those who died in Spain.”Ernest Hemingway

In 1937, Hank Rubin, a twenty-year-old Jewish pre-med student at UCLA, volunteered  for service in the International Brigades combating fascists in the Spanish Civil War. In his illustrated memoir, Rubin reflects on those events, making no apologies for his youthful impulsiveness, bravado, and ideology, but recalling the heroics and sufferings he witnessed and experienced in Spain, as well as the disappointing treatment he received upon his return.



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A Strong and Steady Pulse
Stories from a Cardiologist
Gregory D. Chapman, MD
University of Alabama Press, 2021
A seasoned cardiologist shares his experiences, opinions, and recommendations about heart disease and other cardiac problems

A Strong and Steady Pulse: Stories from a Cardiologist provides an insider’s perspective on the field of cardiovascular medicine told through vignettes and insights drawn from Gregory D. Chapman’s three decades as a cardiologist and professor of medicine. In twenty-six bite-sized chapters based on real-life patients and experiences, Chapman provides an overview of contemporary cardiovascular diseases and treatments, illuminating the art and science of medical practice for lay audiences and professionals alike.

With A Strong and Steady Pulse, Chapman provides medical students and general readers with a better understanding of cardiac disease and its contributing factors in modern life, and he also provides insights on the diagnostic process, medical decision making, and patient care. Each chapter presents a patient and their initial appearance, described in clear detail as Chapman gently walks us through his evaluation and the steps he and his associates take to determine the underlying problem. Chapman’s stories are about real people dealing with life and death situations—including the physicians, nurses, medical students, and other team members who try to save lives in emergent, confusing conditions.

The sometimes hard-won solutions to these medical challenges combine new technology and cutting-edge research together with insights drawn from Chapman’s past experiences as an intern and resident in Manhattan during the AIDS epidemic, as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University in the 1990s, and in practice in Nashville, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama. Conditions addressed include the recognition and management of heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia, valvular heart disease, cardiac transplantation, broken heart syndrome, hypertension, and the depression some people experience after a heart attack, as well as related topics like statin drugs, the Apple Watch ECG feature, and oral anticoagulants. Finally, the emergence of the COVID-19 virus and its disruption of normal hospital routines as the pandemic unfolded is addressed in an epilogue.


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Suppressing the Diseases of Animals and Man
Theobald Smith, Microbiologist
Claude E. Dolman and Richard J. Wolfe
Harvard University Press, 2003

Theobald Smith (1859–1934) is widely considered to be America’s first significant medical scientist and the world’s leading comparative pathologist. Entering the new field of infectious diseases as a young medical graduate, his research in bacteriology, immunology, and parasitology produced many important and basic discoveries. His most significant accomplishment was proving for the first time that an infectious disease could be transmitted by an arthropod agent. He also made significant discoveries on anaphylaxis, vaccine production, bacterial variation, and a host of other methods and diseases. His work on hog cholera led to the selection of the paratyphoid species causing enteric fever as the prototype of the eponymous Salmonella genus, mistakenly named for his chief at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Daniel Salmon, who first reported the discovery in 1886, although the work was undertaken by Smith alone.

In 1895, Smith began a twenty-year career as teacher and researcher at the Harvard Medical School and director of the biological laboratory at the Massachusetts State Board of Health. In 1902, when the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was founded, he was offered but declined its directorship; however, in 1914, when the Institute established a division of animal pathology, he became director of its research division. Suppressing the Diseases of Animals and Man, the first book-length biography of Smith to appear in print, is based primarily on personal papers and correspondence that have remained in the possession of his family until now.


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Take Heart
The Life and Prescription for Living of Dr. Paul Dudley White
Oglesby Paul
Harvard University Press, 1986
Dr. Paul Dudley White was the premier heart specialist of this century. He was recognized as an outstanding bedside doctor, a great teacher, and a widely respected investigator. By his optimism, his pioneer message encouraging physical activity, and his emphasis on avoiding unnecessary invalidism, he changed the outlook of thousands of patients with heart disease and changed it for the better. He was the heart specialist called to see President Eisenhower at the time of his heart attack, and by his frank and authoritative discussions with representatives of the media set a precedent for the handling of all future Presidential illnesses. Known around the world, he used his position as a noted scientist and humanitarian to foster international understanding and the quest for world peace.

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Tell the Driver
A Biography of Elinor F.E. Black, MD
Julie Vandervoort
University of Manitoba Press, 1992

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"Therefore, Choose Life..."
An Autobiography
Moisey Wolf
Oregon State University Press, 2014
An annotated translation of the extraordinary autobiography of Dr. Moisey Wolf (1922-2007), “Therefore, Choose Life...” is an important addition to the literature of Jewish experience and deepens our understanding of the human condition in the twentieth century.

Wolf describes his Jewish childhood and youth in pre-war Poland, his escape from the Holocaust and subsequent medical service in the Soviet Army during World War II and the following decade, his distinguished career in psychiatry in post-Stalinist Soviet Russia, and his final years in Portland, Oregon, after his departure from the Soviet Union in 1992.

Wolf’s narrative skill and evocative personal insights, combined with Judson Rosengrant’s judicious editing and annotation and elegant translation, provide the reader with direct access to a world that has seemingly ceased to exist, yet continues to resonate and inform our own lives in powerful ways.

“Therefore, Choose Life…” will appeal to readers interested in the history of the East-European twentieth century, pre-Holocaust Jewish family life in Poland, and in the survival of a man of deep religious faith and cultivation in the face of the catastrophes and vicissitudes of his time and place.

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Alan Shapiro
University of Chicago Press, 1997
The New York Times Book Review praised Alan Shapiro's The Last Happy Occasion as a "touching and intelligent, emotionally satisfying and elegant testimony to the power of poetry to instruct, heal and inspire." Vigi emerges from the final chapter of that book, "Sittin' in a Funeral Place," a powerful essay about Shapiro's sister Beth, her struggle with breast cancer, and the limitations of poetry in confronting the untransformable pain of loss.

In Vigil, Shapiro chronicles with heart-wrenching lyricism the final four weeks of Beth's life in a hospice, attended by her parents, brothers, husband, daughter and friends. One by one, as loved ones arrive to visit Beth, Shapiro reveals fragments of their personal history, bringing to life a troubled and poignant past. A visit from their brother David triggers the memory of a searing betrayal—the parents disowned Beth after learning from David that she was secretly dating a black man; a visit from the parents recalls their bitter quarrels over Beth's radical politics; a visit from Beth's black husband brings the painful memory of their wedding and her parents' refusal to attend. These recollections and feelings that surface with each visit evoke the unresolved, deeply disturbing issues that kept the Shapiro family estranged for so long, making the reconciliation that Beth's death brings to her family all the more extraordinary.

Shapiro gives an unconventionally honest account of our responses—horror, relief, impatience, exhaustion, exhilaration, projection, fear, self-criticism, and a sense of fulfillment—in the presence of the dying. Concluding with a selection of moving poems, Shapiro affirms the astonishing link between creativity and healing, and provides a coda to the whole experience. The price of human connection may be great, but human connection, in the end, has the power to redeem even the most painful of human experiences.

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A Walking Disaster
What Surviving Katrina and Cancer Taught Me about Faith and Resilience
Jamie Aten
Templeton Press, 2020

Is there a meaning to our suffering? Is hope realistic when tragedy befalls us? Is a return to normalcy possible after our life is uprooted by catastrophe? These are the questions that disaster psychologist Dr. Jamie Aten wrestled with when he was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. In this gripping memoir, Aten shares the life-affirming and faith-renewing insights that he discovered during his tumultuous struggle against the disease.

Aten’s journey began in 2005 when Hur­ricane Katrina struck his community. After witnessing the devastation wrought by the storm, he dedicated his career to investigat­ing how people respond to and recover from all manner of disasters. He studied disaster zones around the globe and founded the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College. His expertise, however, was little comfort when a fateful visit with his oncolo­gist revealed advanced and aggressive cancer. “You’re in for your own personal disaster” was his doctor’s prognosis.

Thrust into a battle for his life, with cancer cells and chemotherapy ravaging his body, Aten found his professional interest taking on new meaning. His ordeal taught him firsthand how we can sustain ourselves when burdened with seemingly unbear­able suffering. Some of his counterintuitive insights include: to find hope, be cautious of optimism; when you want help the least is when you need it most; and spiritual surren­der, rather than a passive act, is instead an act of profound courage.
This last point speaks to the element of grace in Dr. Aten’s story. As he struggled to understand the significance of his suffering, he found himself examining his Christian faith down to its bedrock and learned to experience the redeeming presence of God in his life. Dr. Aten has a natural exuberance that shines through his writing. Infused with his compassionate voice and humanitarian concern,

A Walking Disaster is ultimately an inspirational story about the power of the human spirit to endure trauma with cour­age.


front cover of What Matters in Medicine
What Matters in Medicine
Lessons from a Life in Primary Care
David Loxterkamp, MD
University of Michigan Press, 2013

Primary care has come into the limelight with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the unchecked and unsustainable rise in American health care expenditures, and the crest of Baby Boomers who are now Medicare-eligible and entering the most health care–intensive period of their lives. Yet how much is really known about primary care? What Matters in Medicine: Lessons from a Life in Primary Care is a look at the past, present, and future of general practice, which is not only the predecessor to the modern primary care movement, but its foundation. Through memoir and conversation, Dr. David Loxterkamp reflects on the heroes and role models who drew him to family medicine and on his many years in family practice in a rural Maine community, and provides a prescription for change in the way that doctors and patients approach their shared contract for good health and a happy life. This book will be useful to those on both sides of primary care, doctors and patients alike.


front cover of When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes
When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes
The Memoirs of a Deaf Doctor
Philip Zazove
Gallaudet University Press, 1993

Born almost totally deaf, Philip Zazove has spent his entire life beating the odds first by excelling in public schools during an era when most deaf children went to special schools, then by aspiring to become a medical doctor. When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes is the remarkable story of his determination and achievement in realizing his dreams.

       Despite his stellar record at Northwestern University, Zazove was rejected by a host of medical schools. This only caused him to press harder, which won him acceptance at Rutgers University. He transferred to Washington University in St. Louis where, again against all advice, he decided to specialize in family practice. In vignettes of his patients, some amusing, others moving, he reveals the dedication and humanity that have made him a respected and well-loved doctor. His story will inspire all who read it.


front cover of White Coat, Clenched Fist
White Coat, Clenched Fist
The Political Education of an American Physician
Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D.
University of Michigan Press, 2006

In the sixties, Fitzhugh Mullan was an activist in the civil rights struggle. While in medical school, Mullan was shocked by gaps in what the students learned, and the lack of humanity in the classroom. Later, Dr. Mullan was outraged at the conditions he discovered when he began to practice. He helped found the Student Health Organization, organized the Controversial Medical Collective at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, and struggled to offer improved medical care to those who needed it most and could afford it least.

This landmark book charts the state of medical school and practices in the 1960s and 70s. This new edition is updated with a preface in which Dr. Mullan reflects on the changes in the medical field over the last thirty-plus years.

Fitzhugh Mullan is Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy at George Washington University. He worked at the U.S. Public Health Service where he attained the rank of Assistant Surgeon General (1991-1996). Dr. Mullan is the co-founder of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the author of numerous books, including Plagues and Politics: The Story of the United States Public Health Service, and his most recent book, Narrative Matters: The Power of the Personal Essay in Health Policy.


front cover of The Wounded River
The Wounded River
The Civil War Letters of John Vance Lauderdale, M.D.
Peter Josyph
Michigan State University Press, 1993

The Wounded River takes the reader back more than 130 years to reveal a marvelous, first-hand account of nineteenth-century warfare. In the process, the work cuts the legends and mythology that have come to frame and define accounts of America's bloodiest war. Of equal significance, Peter Josyph's editorial work on this superb collection of letters from the Western Americana Division of Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscripts Library enhances and clarifies Lauderdale's experinces as a surgeon aboard the U.S. Army hospital ship D. A. January.  
      The reader looks on while Lauderdale, a New York civilian contract surgeon, operates on hundreds of Confederate and Union wounded. The young doctor's clear writing style and his great compassion for these unfortunate men whose bodies were ripped apart by bullets, shell fragments, and bayonets permits us to catch a disturbiing glimpse of what modern warfare does to humanity. Finally, we learn of Lauderdale's motives for volunteering, his impressions of the "hospital ship" D. A. January, Confederate morale, the Abolitionist cause, and black slavery. The Wounded River is a must read for anyone interested in the real American Civil War.


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