by Ira M. Rutkow, 434 pp, with illus, $175, ISBN 0-930405-48-X, Manchester Village, Vt, Normative Publications, 1992.
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Dr Ira Rutkow early in his career developed an abiding interest in the history and evolution of surgery, which later became focused more particularly on early American surgery. He was initially frustrated and disappointed by the apparent lack of adequate histories. Those available were frequently regurgitations of previously stated opinions, without the authors' seeking out original work for confirmation, too often leading to repetition of errors. This became the genesis of his desire to produce an authoritative and definitive history of surgery in the United States from 1775 to 1900.
Volume 1, published in 1988, was an annotated bibliography of all published surgical texts in this time frame written by US surgeons. Volume 2 continues the same exhaustive, annotated format in reviewing America's early periodical and pamphlet surgical literature, then as now the principal means of communicating surgical observations and discoveries.
Some idea of the enormity of the task can
Abel WG. The History of Surgery in the United States 1775-1900, vol 2: Periodicals and Pamphlets. JAMA. 1993;270(1):98. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510010104042