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November 11, 1992

Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov, Questions of Life: Diary of an Old Physician

Author Affiliations

University of Missouri—Columbia


edited by Galina V. Zarechnak, 480 pp, $29.95, ISBN 0-88135-061-3, Canton, Mass, Science History Publications, USA, 1991.

JAMA. 1992;268(18):2588-2589. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490180120044

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Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov was a pioneering and celebrated 19th-century Russian surgeon whose reputation preceded him wherever he went, both at home and abroad. He was also an active participant in the intellectual life of his nation during a period of change and transition. With the publication of this new English-language edition of his memoirs, we catch a glimpse of Pirogov, both as public figure and private, contemplative individual. We see him attempting to understand not only himself but also the political and social changes swirling around him.

The volume, which is part of a series titled Resources in Medical History, has been nicely edited with an excellent introduction by Dr Galina Zarechnak. Although it is not clear who did the actual translation, it reads smoothly with only an occasional lapse into colloquial usage or awkward expression. The use of the word pope to render the Russian for village priest (pop