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July 26, 1985

ZAB: Brevet Major Zabdiel Boylston Adams, 1829-1902, Physician of Boston and Framingham

Author Affiliations

Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School (Emeritus) Boston


by Charles Newton Peabody, 255 pp, with illus, $17.50, Boston, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine; Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, distributor, 1984.

JAMA. 1985;254(4):551-552. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360040107042

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The reader who opens this book will be greeted by a photograph of Zabdiel Boylston Adams. It shows him as a mature physician, one who demonstrates understanding, compassion, and a trace of melancholy, but who still peers into the future with optimism that the world may be improved by his own actions. It is an appropriate introduction to a superb, intimate text by Dr C. Newton Peabody, who elaborates on these and other characteristics of this unusual Yankee physician, who survived the Civil War and returned to practice in a small Massachusetts town until the close of the century.

Born into a famous Boston family in 1829, "Zab" not unexpectedly developed strong loyalties to Harvard (despite the fact he was asked to leave because of certain peccadillos), to Bowdoin, and to Harvard Medical School. He was stimulated by such great French physicians and surgeons as Louis and Nelaton during a