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December 20, 1995

Simon Baruch: Rebel in the Ranks of Medicine, 1840-1921

Author Affiliations

Medical Center of Delaware Wilmington


by Patricia Spain Ward (History of American Science and Technology Series, edited by Lester D. Stephens), 399 pp, with illus, $49.95, ISBN 0-8173-0589-0, Tuscaloosa, Ala, The University of Alabama Press, 1994.

JAMA. 1995;274(23):1885-1886. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530230069035

Simon Baruch was just 15 years old when he left his family to emigrate from a region now part of Poland to South Carolina to obtain a medical education. The chapters on his education in Patricia Spain Ward's biography are revealing of the time: for instance, formaldehyde for cadavers was not yet invented, so classes in dissection were possible in winter months only. At 22, immediately after his graduation, Baruch signed on as a physician in the Confederate Army. He was captured several times and held prisoner once.

The chapters describing the young physician's military experiences reveal many chilling truths about military medicine at the time of the Civil War. When the war ended, Baruch was so weakened by typhoid that he needed crutches on his hike home to Camden, South Carolina. There was no mail, nor bridges, nor railroads; the problems for physicians were almost as dreadful as they

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