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August 24, 1984

Famous Operations

Author Affiliations

Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School Boston

JAMA. 1984;252(8):1065. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350080065036

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One does not need to be a physician to enjoy this book—all persons, young or old, will be entranced by the author's literary skill, wit, and flair for the dramatic as they read this absorbing collection of 16 essays.

Because every reader can argue in favor of his own list of 16 famous operations, the author neatly disposes of criticisms of his selection by labeling them as Ellis I (original successful major procedures), Ellis II (insignificant procedures that open new surgical techniques), or Ellis III (operations on famous patients). In the first two categories France and Germany each gain one chapter, while the others are almost equally divided between Great Britain and the United States. Kings of England predominate in the last category. The selection of subjects is extremely interesting and varied. In particular it is demonstrated that a great operation can originate from such a lowly object as a