THE CRY AND THE COVENANT by Morton Thompson

THE CRY AND THE COVENANT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A skillful, illuminating and dramatic fictional biography dealing with the tragic 19th century Hungarian, Dr. Semmelweis, a humanitarian who discovered the cause of puerperal fever and devoted his entire energies to making his discovery known and accepted. While working in the midwifery division of the Vienna hospital, Semmelweis is dismayed at the number of women who die horribly of the fever, and spends months dissecting cadavers infected by the fever. Not until his partner cuts himself with a dissecting knife and dies of the same fever, does Semmelweis recognize the cause in unsanitary conditions. Bucking medical politics and its conservative strength, Semmelweis orders his assistants and midwives to wash their hands before making vaginal examinations. The fever practically disappears for a time, until the conservative element forces Semmelweis out of Vienna- and the old conditions prevail and the fever rages again. Returning to his native Hungary, Semmelweis experiments in a small backward hospital, achieves almost perfect results, writes articles for medieval journals and a book to which the medical profession pays no attention. Totally frustrated, Semmelweis finally goes insane...Though occasionally sentimental, this has excellent dramatic qualities and a sense of struggle. If given a sympathetic send off, it might build up a good sale.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1949
Publisher: Doubleday