by Martha Weinman Lear, 413 pp, $12.95, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1980.
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Medically related books, like medicine, are big business and have a uniquely successful track record in the world of publishing. The reasons for this are inherent in the subject matter: we are voyeurs peering into medicine's inner sanctum, witnessing the drama of life-and-death decisions, and experiencing the glories of medical life. Authors present us with outrageous facts of medical economics and politics and portray the concomitant simplicity and complexity of dying.
The interested reader faces a barrage of new books dealing with any one of these topics. Against this plethoric background, the outstanding literary effort gains dramatic import. Heartsounds, by Martha Weinman Lear, is such a work.
The book chronicles the lives of Harold and Martha Weinman Lear over the slightly more than four-year period before his death in September 1978. Lear had been a urologist in Hartford, Conn, who left practice two years before his first heart attack to
Borgenicht L. Heartsounds. JAMA. 1980;244(19):2212. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310190062033