Moments of truth: four creators of modern medicine

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Wiley, Dec 29, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 563 pages
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In the early eighteenth century admission to hospital was often a death sentence and operations little more than excruciating butchery. Thomas Dormandy recounts in vivid detail the lives of four men who helped to change this and who created modern medicine and surgery. They are:

Rene Laennec (1781- 1826) a French physician, who invented the stethoscope and virtually created modern physical diagnosis. He worked tirelessly to give his patients not only health but also dignity and hope until he himself succumbed to the greatest killer of his age, tuberculosis.

Ignac Semmelweis (1818- 1865) a brilliant but volatile Hungarian, who discovered why so many young women died in agony following childbirth. He himself died forsaken by all in a mental hospital.

Joseph Lister (1827- 1912) a British surgeon, who recognised the cause of 'hospital sepsis' and devised a way to combat it. It opened the way to modern surgery. A great Victorian, he was high-minded, hard-working and compassionate but not without human weaknesses.

Walter Reed (1851- 1902) an American army pathologist, who discovered that Yellow Fever, a massive killer, was spread by mosquitoes.

This gripping narrative describes the world in which they lived and their moments of truth.

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Laennec and the Stethoscope
Child of Brittany

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About the author (2003)

Thomas Dormandy is a retired consultant pathologist (MD, DSc, FRCS, FRCPath). He is the author of over 300 scientific papers as well as two books aimed at a general readership, The White Death, a history of tuberculosis (short-listed for the Aventis Prize) and Old Masters, a work of art history.

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