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March 22, 1971

A Biographical History of Medicine: Excerpts and Essays on the Men and Their Work

Author Affiliations

University of California San Francisco


by John H. Talbott, 1,211 pp, with illus, $48, New York and London: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1970.

JAMA. 1971;215(12):1990. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180250082035

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This book is a composite of all the medicohistorical essays included by Dr. Talbott in the individual issues of JAMA during the 11 years of his editorship.

The historical essays, like the reproductions of works of art on the covers of JAMA that replaced the "institutional" cover design, are hallmarks of Dr. Talbott's imaginative editorship. Each of the short essays, dealing with the life and achievements of one outstanding physician, gives an impressive, though somewhat cursory introduction to medical greatness in chronological arrangement. There is no indication why certain personalities have been selected for inclusion while others have been omitted—except that Dr. Talbott has expressed a preference for dealing with figures of the past, and in fact, only one person currently alive is included.

Through these individual vignettes we are enabled to experience the unfolding of medical knowledge, presented chronologically and by specialties, from the time of Hammurabi (2250 BC)