Kirkus Star


Notes Of A Medicine-watcher (alfred P. Sloan Foundation Series)
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Writing of his life and his scientific challenges, the author of The Lives of a Cell and The Medusa and the Snail displays the same unpretentious but erudite way with words that have made the essays justly famous. Thomas grew up in N.Y.'s Flushing when there were clapboard houses and trees; Father was a horse-and-buggy doctor who made house calls; Mother was a nurse; and the front parlor was the waiting room. He went on to Harvard Medical School and internship in Boston, residency at Columbia (in neurology), a tour at Rockefeller Institute, military service on Guam, and then postwar academic laurels--departmental chairmanships at Minnesota and NYU, a deanship at Yale. Thomas is now head of Sloan-Kettering. But all this is incidental to telling what student life was like in the pre-antibiotic days; what personal fascinations there are in infectious diseases, in strange microorganisms (neither bacteria nor virus) called mycoplasmas. Thomas' administrative skills were quickly recognized, and he describes jumping at the chance to build up a pathology department at NYU; he also remarks that he would prefer, to this day, being taken to Bellevue over any other place should he fall ill on the streets of New York. From his stints on the N.Y.C. Board of Health and on Johnson's science advisory board, there are political asides as well. The chronology moves to the present with word of personal illness and surgery, and the observation that every doctor should have the experience of being a patient. Wife Beryl, clearly an intellectual soul-mate, is mentioned sparingly and lovingly. As commentary on being a doctor, on doing and teaching science, an adornment to the Sloan Foundation series (which began with Freeman Dyson's Disturbing the Universe and Peter Medawar's Advice to a Young Scientist); and, in itself, a sheer pleasure to read.
Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1982
ISBN: 0140243275
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1982


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