by Guido Majno, 571 pp, with illus, $25, Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1975.
Someday, medical practice circa 1975 will astound future generations by its naiveté, irrationality, and "cures that made matters worse," and 20th century thought will seem as obscure to our descendents as the practices of physicians in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece now seem to us.
If we are lucky, Dr Guido Majno will be reincarnated every thousand years to resurrect our dusty medical archives and clarify our medical ideas. Undoubtedly, he would display the same energy, wit, and enthusiasm evident in the present book. However, instead of tackling mummies, bones, hieroglyphics, excavations, and artwork, he would have to scrutinize miles of microfilm and millions of tons of journals, deciphering longforgotten computer codes, laboratory results, and operative procedures.
With enormous curiosity and indepth knowledge of pathology, Dr Majno has analyzed the development of wound care, surgery, and anatomical knowledge between 3000 BC and AD 200. The major civilizations included in his
LOEFFEL ED. The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World. JAMA. 1975;234(10):1069. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260230069032