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This kind of collection is only as interesting as the subjects included. Inevitably some worthwhile practitioners don't come through as either exciting or stimulating. However, when they do, the authors retell the stories well. From Kentucky's McDowell, the first to operate internally and who was slated for lynching of his patient died, through Beaumont, the first to observe the process of digestion through the flap in the stomach of a surly trapper whose life he had saved, to Marcus Whitman, an early medical missionary, it is very good storytelling indeed. The stories of Lewis and Clark as do-it-yourself doctors on their danger-fraught expedition and Dr. Sam Crumbine of recent times who started the war on houseflies with the warcry ""Swat 'em"", come through with quiet humor and the inescapable poignance of moments in medicine. For the rest -- Bethenia Owens, first woman doctor in Oregon, John Griffin, a medical hero of the Mexican war and Henri Perrine, who collected medicinal plants -- their relative obscurity may be accounted for by the fact that they just weren't very colorful even in the midst of colorful times and achievements. Some more drops for a doctor-deluged market.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1963
Publisher: Watts