Next book



Not for the squeamish, but an eye-opener for would-be doctors.

For one first-year medical student, dissecting a cadaver brings about not just intimate knowledge of a human body but a personal transformation.

Montross, writing this memoir in her final year of medical school, finds herself “performing previously unthinkable actions in order to discover wondrous and previously unimaginable realms.” She reports in vivid, often poetic detail the physical, mental and emotional demands of meticulously taking apart the dead body of a woman she calls Eve, an experience that enthralls her, exhausts her, gives her haunting dreams and teaches her human anatomy as no textbook could. Beginning with the chest and ending with the head, she and three classmates painstakingly explore parts of Eve’s body, learning to identify organs, muscles, tendons, blood vessels and nerves. For those who have never been there, this is uncomfortably close to the real thing. It is tedious, smelly and demanding work, but at the same time an essential task for medical students and for Montross an especially rewarding one. The summer after her anatomy lab course ends, she travels to Padua to see where Vesalius performed his historic dissections—illustrations from the anatomist’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica introduce each chapter—and to Bologna to see the collection of wax sculptures used for teaching anatomy in the 18th century. Going beyond personal experience, she discusses the myths and superstitions surrounding dead bodies, and she provides a capsule history of cadaver supply from the 16th century on, including the Scottish “resurrectionists” Burke and Hare, who went from grave robbing to smothering to provide medical students with fresh bodies. Other themes explored include the process of dying, the ethics of medical training and the emotional difficulty of dissecting a cadaver.

Not for the squeamish, but an eye-opener for would-be doctors.

Pub Date: June 25, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59420-125-7

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

Next book


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Next book



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview