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You may have heard of David Hartman: Temple University held a press conference when he entered medical school there, the first blind student accepted into such a program. This biography, however, spends perhaps 20 pages on that controversial four-year experience; the larger part concerns his previous history, from the onset of blindness at age eight through his years of education at special and mainstream schools, examining in some detail his struggle for admission to medical school. He himself credits a ""persistent brattiness"" and bouts with a competitive sister for his drive, and clearly knows--and rather relishes--his unconventionality: he'd love to play tennis with his wife or see a skin flick. He's no face feeler, not a grin-and-bear-it type, and he has some constructive criticism for the schools and agencies which have helped him. But oddly enough, although one leaves this book feeling respect for his regular-guy personality, for his tenacity in pursuing a goal and for graduating in the top half of his class, one remains uneasy about his ability as a doctor. As a psychiatrist, he doesn't have to identify blood cells under a microscope or perform open-heart surgery; but access to body language and facial expressions might enhance his diagnostic skills, something he seems unwilling to admit (""Visual clues might reinforce the clues I hear, but they have just as much chance of confusing and distorting them. . . . I'm not suggesting. . . that being blind helps me be a better psychiatrist, but I don't think it has anything to do with being a poorer one""). So: read this as a declaration of one man's perseverance, not as unshakable evidence of the rightness of his case.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Playboy--dist. by Simon & Schuster