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August 18, 1989

Perfecting the World: The Life and Times of Dr Thomas Hodgkin 1798-1866

Author Affiliations

Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine London, England

Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine London, England


by Amalie M. Kass and Edward H. Kass, 642 pp, with illus, $34.95, Boston, Mass, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, 1988.

JAMA. 1989;262(7):961. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430070109048

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An eponym can confer a kind of immortality on its subject, although men like Alois Alzheimer and Moric Kaposi might be surprised at the familiarity their names invoke today. Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866) was not "awarded" his eponym until after his death, but the name has stuck. The fact that Hodgkin's disease is relatively common, and that Hodgkin, with Richard Bright and Thomas Addison, is one of the trio of eponymic "Great Men of Guy's," ensures that we know his name. The Kasses' magnificent new biography means there is no excuse not to know a good deal more.

Hodgkin lived through a dramatic time in medicine, during which the hospital assumed center stage in medical education. This "hospital medicine" was most highly developed in Paris, where the work of men like Xavier Bichat, Jean Corvisart, and R. T. H. Laennec gave a new precision to physical diagnosis and championed the idea