A FAMILY OF DOCTORS

An artful blend of medical history and family memoir. Psychiatrist and writer Hellerstein (Beth Israel Hospital/New York; Battles of Life and Death, 1986; Loving Touches, 1987) traces his family's links with medicine through five generations, beginning with his great-great-grandfather's brother, Marcus Rossenwasser, whose parents sent him from Cleveland back to Prague for his medical education and who practiced in Cleveland from the 1870's to 1910. One of Hellerstein's resources here was a remarkable and revealing log titled ``Obstetric Notes'' that Rossenwasser kept from 1875 to 1893. In the next generation, Hellerstein's maternal grandfather's stepfather (there's a neatly done family tree that sorts all this out), Gustave Feil, was a physician in Denver, although Hellerstein is unable to discover much about him except that he had tuberculosis and killed himself in early middle age. Next, the author traces the career of his maternal grandfather, Harold Feil, a cardiologist who exemplified a new trend in medicine by becoming a clinician-scientist—that is, combining private practice with teaching and research. Hellerstein's father took the trend a step further, becoming a full-time faculty member at Western Reserve, deeply involved in cardiology research. If there is one dominant figure in this book it is he, and there are wonderful scenes of him dragging his children around the hospital with him. Hellerstein's mother, also a physician, unfortunately remains a shadowy figure, perhaps because her doctoring was so often interrupted by mothering. In the current generation, four of the six Hellerstein offspring are physicians—a psychiatrist, a urologist, a pediatrician, and an obstetrician. Hellerstein does a fine job of contrasting the cultural with the medical milieu of each generation, and his descriptions of each period's dilemmas and opportunities indicate not only what medicine has gained but what it has lost in the past century. Rewarding reading—and a good gift for the would-be medical student.

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8090-4405-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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