November 28, 1990

John Charnley: The Man and the Hip

Author Affiliations

University of California Irvine

University of California Irvine


by William Waugh, 268 pp, with illus, $39.50, ISBN 30540-19587-4, New York, NY, Springer-Verlag, 1990.

JAMA. 1990;264(20):2682. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450200090039

John Charnley (1911-1983) was one of the most important orthopedic surgeons in the world. His early work on military medicine, trauma, and arthritis and, finally, his biomechanical research that led to total joint surgery are well known. This wonderful book, written by an orthopedic colleague who knew him well, is more a biography than a medical text. The 233 easily read pages are supplemented by 83 photographs and scientific drawings, in addition to an extensive bibliography and glossary of orthopedic terms.

The author gives us a sense of the making of Charnley's genius in a detailed review of his early life. Charnley was the son of a pharmacist in Bury, England, attended medical school at the University of Manchester, and after training in surgery with specialization in orthopedics received an emergency commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He served from 1940 to 1946 and saw action in Dunkirk and