NO STRANGER TO TEARS by William G. Cahan


A Surgeon's Story
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 Engrossing memoirs of a cancer surgeon at N.Y.C.'s Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Cahan, a journal-keeper for decades and a contributor to Reader's Digest and The New York Times, may not be quite as adroit with a pen as with a scalpel, but he's no slouch either. His memoirs begin conventionally enough, with engaging stories of his parents and his boyhood, followed by tales of medical school, internship, and residency. His horizons broaden with his marriages, first to Gertrude Lawrence's daughter and later to magazine editor Grace Mirabella, bringing him into contact with the rich, the famous, the socially prominent, and the powerful. Cahan clearly enjoys dropping names, but, nevertheless, he comes across as the kind of doctor one dreams of finding--caring about his patients while caring for them: The tears he is no stranger to are his own as well as those of his patients. A man of compassion, Cahan provides a lengthy list of practical and philosophical advice for future doctors that merits inclusion in the curriculum of every medical school. Meanwhile, he takes understandable fatherly pride in having a son who has followed in his footsteps--a description of the two together in an operating room introduces the book and provides its motif. Cahan is a doctor with a mission--ridding the world of tobacco. Knowing better than most the damage tobacco causes, he is an activist, seizing every opportunity to challenge the tobacco industry and warning every smoker he meets (cab drivers, Edward R. Murrow) to quit. He's also a long-distance diagnostician, contacting prominent figures (Jimmy Carter, Yuri Andropov) when he spots disease symptoms on their TV images. A thoroughly enjoyable read about an engaged and engaging man.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1992
ISBN: 0-394-56518-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1992