A stimulating account of how medicine advanced by getting physical.




Modern medicine’s focus on the mechanics of disease to the exclusion of the emotional and spiritual dimensions of illness and healing remains both its greatest strength and a growing weakness, according to this historical study.

Kurapati (Unbound Intelligence, 2014), a doctor, frames his discussion with his patients’ persistent questions about the meaning of their suffering and frustration at physicians who view them as assemblages of malfunctioning organs rather than whole human beings. He examines the centurieslong development of that mechanistic mindset. Ancient medicine, he argues, was a deeply religious and philosophical enterprise: healers, who were often priests, attributed disease to divine (or demonic) intervention or explained it in terms of a whole-life balance of elements and energy flows. Unfortunately, while these systems comforted the sick and embedded their anguish in a meaningful worldview, they hardened into unverified dogmas that seldom healed patients physically and sometimes, as in the practice of bloodletting, hurt them badly. That all changed starting in the Renaissance: an understanding of the body as a machine with a blood-pump at its center took hold; empirical observation began to eclipse received wisdom; dissection and new scientific instruments revealed hidden structures and processes in the body; and controlled experiments and statistical analysis made objective verification the gold standard in medical practice. Kurapati’s loose-limbed, erudite, but accessible exploration of this history ranges back to ancient Greece, India, and China and forward to the latest trends in robotic surgery and implanted sensors. He leavens the narrative with vignettes from his own clinical experiences, which are vividly observed—during his first Code Blue resuscitation, “in the farthest corner of the room, medical students huddled among the comfort of their clan”—and deftly illustrate his scholarly themes. (He notes how the dissection of cadavers in medical school inculcated in him a callousness and detachment that enable a dispassionate clinical attitude.) His case that scientific “dehumanization” is a serious drawback in modern medicine is not as strong as his argument that it was an indispensable breakthrough: as one of his illuminating anecdotes shows, a good hospital chaplain works wonders at salving a patient’s despairing soul, letting the doctors deal with patching the body.

A stimulating account of how medicine advanced by getting physical.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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