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Book and Media Reviews
January 20, 2010

Frontier Medicine: From the Atlantic to the Pacific, 1492-1941

JAMA. 2010;303(3):277-281. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2033

After practicing medicine for more than 30 years, I find it easy to be indignant when nonphysicians question the purity of the purpose and direction of the profession. Furthermore, it is not unusual to see even young, newly trained physicians with the same medical self-righteousness, which can result from having just survived the rigors of training. What might cure such a self-serving and even destructive attitude, however, is a good hard look at the history of medicine in this country, which is to face some of the lowly beginnings and the weaknesses of the origins of the profession, as well as its more admirable qualities. In Frontier Medicine, Dary has mixed together a medicinal concoction of American medical history that promises a cure for self-righteousness . . . a long, hard, and nourishing swig of historical humility.

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