Kirkus Star


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A truly stimulating biography whose subject, Dr. Norman Bethune, is presented in all love, understanding and fairness. Opening with his death in North China, where he was known as Pal Chu En (White Seek Grace) and worshipped by the guerrillas, whose lives he valued so highly, and the civilians, this gives a candid picture of his career, from his decision to study medicine, his marriage to Frances which was to bring them both so much unhappiness, his love for and ability in painting and sculpture, his rise to success in Detroit and the excess of work and play which ended in TB and a verdict of death. But at Trudeau his despair vanished when he studied the possibilities of artificial pneumothorax, insisted the operation be performed on him -- and left the sanitarium in two months, healed. From then on he was dedicated to thoracic surgery, improved, perfected and invented methods and equipment and, guided by his determination to go to the people themselves, left for the Spanish Civil War, there to develop the techniques of a mobile operating room and blood transfusions. And next, it was to China where his tireless energy became legendary and where Tung, ""my other self"", helped him to leash that blazing temper, and bring him to better understanding of the Chinese. Deafness threatened him and septicemia wrote a finish to his fiery career, in 1939. Not a perfect character nor one who would condone smugness, this Canadian's story packs a terrific wallop. The man shines brightly in his speeches and his writings and you'll agree with a colleague's estimate, ""Norman Bethune boasted he was a Communist. I say he was a Saint of God"". No cold scientist here but a real person and a real story.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1952
Publisher: Little, Brown