NO MAN ALONE: A Neurosurgeon's Life by Wilder Penfield

NO MAN ALONE: A Neurosurgeon's Life

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Penfield founded the Montreal Neurological Institute in 1934 and his trailblazing effort successfully established the interdisciplinary approach to neurological disorders. An eminent brain surgeon who pioneered research techniques and operating procedures, he was a tireless worker and great organizer who valued his colleagues, published extensively, and always found time for a much-loved family. This staid but engrossing memoir, completed just before his death in 1976, follows Penfield from his boyhood in Washington and Wisconsin through years of training (Princeton, Oxford on a long-sought Rhodes, European hospitals and labs, New York's P & S Hospital) to his first professional experiences prior to the opening of the Institute. In this community of specialists, microscopic hinges are ""beautiful,"" medical notables (Pavlov among them) exchange opinions freely, and Penfield's ongoing quest--for the function of specific cells, better staining techniques, additional funds--is dramatically conveyed with a minimum of medical terminology. He speculated often, consulted widely, and studiously took on risky cases including his own sister (a brain tumor removed under local anesthesia) and a teenage epileptic, a willing volunteer who just wanted to get back to the golf course. Ironically, as a boy Penfield had been warned away from ""an indoor profession"": his father, a failed physician, left the family to sojourn in the wilderness. An involving recreation of an intense, medically exciting period from a most distinguished participant.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown