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December 1966

Medicine in America: Historical Essays.

Arch Intern Med. 1966;118(6):618-619. doi:10.1001/archinte.1966.00290180094027

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Some very perceptive essays by an eminent historian of science are collected in this little volume. Their previous separate publication spans more than 30 years, and the earlier ones are themselves period pieces (hailing, for example, the theory of focal infection, now again out of vogue). Their point of view will appeal to all physicians, though the professional historian may find the essays too facile. But, because the book can be read with ease and enjoyment, it deserves a place on every physician's bedside table.

Santayana's comment that he who does not know history is doomed to repeat it is true also for medicine. Currently, there is much hue and cry about applied research and a call for de-emphasis of basic research. It is humbling to realize that the 19th century felt the same way, and that the improvement in medical education in America only came about when the tide

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