The very capable chronicler of The Century of the Surgeon and The Triumph of Surgery has recorded the last phase of the great German surgeon, Ferdinand Sauerbruch, not to attack the man who, aging, failing and erring, was guilty not only of medical misdemeanours but disasters, but rather the ""unwritten laws of professional solidarity"" which protected him at the expense of the lives of his patients. Sauerbruch had achieved many great advances in medicine, particularly in thoracic surgery, but in 1949, as Director of the Surgical Clinic of Berlin's Charite Hospital, he suffered from senile cerebral sclerosis and had become a butcher. Finally in 1950 he was forced into ""voluntary"" retirement although his successor, a younger man, had been silent out of fear and deference. Securing a post in a small clinic, where he was given few cases, he still continued to operate at home and others lost their lives. A wife and a glib biographer helped to obscure this- almost until the end.... It has happened before- it has happened here- and perhaps greater public awareness through a book such as this will help to prevent its happening again.