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Book and Media Reviews
June 22 2011

The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Benton, Illinois (Tmiksanek@aol.com).

JAMA. 2011;305(24):2580. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.875

Two and a half billion. That's the number of beats a human heart generates during an average lifespan. The heart is a workhorse. It is also a biological and mechanical wonder. Yet the 8- to 12-oz organ transcends its function as a smallish pump that packs a powerful punch. The heart has become a symbol of being human. The heart is a metaphor for love, courage, spirit, and passion: “[W]e leave our hearts in San Francisco, wear them on our sleeves, speak straight from them, and allow them to be broken” (p 156). The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart tracks the changing opinions of this muscular organ throughout the course of Western civilization.

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