February 20, 1987

Saranac: America's Magic Mountain

Author Affiliations

Editor Emeritus, The Journal

Editor Emeritus, The Journal


by Robert Taylor, 307 pp, with illus, $17.95, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1986.

JAMA. 1987;257(7):985-986. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390070105039

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This is the story of Saranac, a village in the Adirondack mountains of New York, which became the home of America's first tuberculosis sanatorium. The author, Robert Taylor, the chief book and art critic of the Boston Globe, relates the history of Saranac over a period of 100 years through biographical sketches of famous people who so-journed there. From among the thousands of people who came to Saranac, he has chosen those who are well-known artists, authors, poets, scientists, or physicians, and it is through their accounts that we learn of the magic of Saranac.

The principal figure in this story is Dr Edward Livingstone Trudeau who went to Saranac lake, an area he loved, believing that he would soon die from far-advanced tuberculosis. Instead of dying he recovered and, believing that the area had special curative properties, he established there the first tuberculosis sanatorium in the United States. The