A doctor recounts his harrowing experience treating children with leukemia.
In 1964, Dr. G. Bennet Humphrey worked in the leukemia ward at the National Institute of Health in Maryland and was tasked with administering a drug protocol called POMP, an initialism that captured the four drugs it included: prednisolone, Oncovin, methotrexate, and Purinethol. While POMP could send leukemia into remission, effectively curing patients previously considered terminal, it also delivered debilitating side effects: toxicity, nausea, vomiting, bleeding, and infections, and it sometimes could result in fatality. Nevertheless, the author and his two colleagues, Dr. Gerald Sandler and Dr. Rick Lottsfeldt, were ordered by their supervisor, Dr. Emil “Jay” Freireich, to press on with the treatment. In some cases, in order to protect their patients from the effects of POMP, they violated protocol. The anguish of seeing young children suffer because of a treatment they loathed took an emotional toll on Humphrey and his colleagues: “I was tired of writing orders that could cause toxicity, tired of looking for toxicity all week long, tired of finding toxicity, and tired of watching patients die of toxicity.” The author details the year he spent working in pediatric oncology and discusses not only his clinical experience, but also the relationships he forged with his young patients and their parents, the friendships made with his two colleagues, and the diversions he turned to for solace from the pain of being a daily witness to suffering. Humphrey writes with impressive clarity even when discussing highly technical medical matters, and he poignantly expresses the visceral challenges of his work. He also adds another personal layer to the story by chronicling his romantic life at the time and the loneliness he felt but could not adequately communicate to others. The author’s remembrance is as moving as it is scientifically edifying.
An affecting, candid recollection about the human costs of medical research.
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").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)