Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media
by Stephen Westaby, 683 pp, with illus, $150, ISBN 1-899066-54-3, Oxford, England, Isis Medical Media, St Louis, Mo, Mosby, 1997.
Like bullfighting, cardiac surgery entails risk taking before an audience. Its pioneers were enthusiastically bold and decisive as they sought various moments of truth. Landmarks in Cardiac Surgery provides insights into the whens, whats, and whys that have characterized and bedeviled the development of this unique specialty.
The book excels at exploring the former off-limits nature of operating on the heart, its mutinous undercurrents, and the resilience of those who dared cut into this previously forbidden zone. When defeat and despair stalked, the key to success often came down to tenacity, for, as Sir Francis Drake is here quoted, "it is not the beginnings, but the continuing [of any great matter] unto the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory." Also revealed are egoism—another distinguishing trait of the pioneer—the scientific infrastructure of cardiac surgical innovation, formidable technical difficulties, obstructive social attitudes, and stimulating interpersonal rivalries.
Cardiac SurgeryLandmarks in Cardiac Surgery. JAMA. 1999;281(2):193-194. doi:10.1001/jama.281.2.193-JBK0113-5-1