In this revised version of his 1935 autobiography, Morris, the author of 10 nonfiction books (Hopkins Pond and other sketches, 1896, etc.) writes about his career during a transformative age when medicine moved from horror to hospital.
Some things were better back in the good old days; not medicine. Morris, a renowned physician and surgeon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, maintained a career that saw important medical developments: the introduction of Joseph Lister’s pioneering antiseptic procedures, for instance, and the use of anesthesia becoming commonplace during surgery. It’s hard to imagine that surgeons once treasured the rancid smell of that “good old surgical stink” produced by dried blood and pus. They operated in ordinary frock coats and, Morris recalls, wiped their knives across their boots to clean them before cutting into a patient. Operations were commonly done at a person’s home and as quickly as possible since without anesthesia the patient couldn’t survive the agony of an extended cutting session. Over the course of Morris’ career, hospitals became germ-free centers of healing rather than foul prisons for the insane and enfeebled. Written in a wry, self-deprecating style, Morris’ accessible, entertaining book is punctuated by examples and stories. It works on another level, too, as a peek into an achingly beautiful America now gone, when seemingly everyone in New York City knew each other, and the countryside beyond cities was filled with streams, woods and wild game. When it first appeared in 1935, Morris’ book was a best-seller; this revision from Gosden and Walker (Morris’ granddaughter) could easily do the same. It presents a multifaceted portrait: a conscientious, dedicated physician who refuses to accept a fee if he’s unsuccessful; a profession shrugging off the chains of ignorant tradition for the sterile coat of science; and a fertile country destroyed by frenzied building and avarice. Considering the current mess of health care and environmental decline, readers will weep for time passed.
Far more of a human and social portrait than a medical text, this reissue fills the prescription for fascinating reading.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)