Unsoured yet profoundly disturbed by social abuses witnessed over 30 years, Dr. Spain quietly and convincingly exerts his...

READ REVIEW

POST-MORTEM

Unsoured yet profoundly disturbed by social abuses witnessed over 30 years, Dr. Spain quietly and convincingly exerts his own humane values. He is both a medical examiner and a pathologist working on cancer and heart disease. In his latter capacity, he recalls how the smoking/cancer link was known in the early 1950's but carefully covered up, even by the medical profession. Spain is modest about his own contributions to the early diagnosis and cure of heart disease; beyond immediate medical discoveries, he pressed physicians to pay careful attention to the victims' symptoms in the period prior to acute attack. Spain's most famous criminal cases involved working with the defense in the Goodman-Schwemer-Chaney murders in Mississippi in 1964, the 1970 police killing of Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, and the indictment of New York City housewife Alice Crimmins for murdering her two children. He notes that in political cases medical examiners may wildly distort their findings, violating every canon of ethics and professional training -- while the sort of hysteria that surrounded the Crimmins case can cause dubious or clearly false verdicts. Spain's post-mortem examination of Fred Hampton found ""that he was shot in full view of his killer and in a defenseless position -- not in a blind shoot-out"" and he is distressed that the only redress was the demotion of three police officers. The book begins with Hamlet ""What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason!"" and ends with the thought that the eight guards killed at Attica, by police bullets not inmates, remind him of new disposable medical instruments: were those guards, Middle Americans all, equally disposable?

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973