August 1973

Medical America in the Nineteenth Century: Readings from the Literature.

Author Affiliations

Reseda, Calif


Edited by Gert H. Brieger. Price, $12.50. Pp 338. The Johns Hopkins Press, Homewood, Baltimore 21218, 1972.

Arch Intern Med. 1973;132(2):297. doi:10.1001/archinte.1973.03650080139032

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"Going down in history" is a mixed blessing. Fatuity is as likely as wisdom to catch the chronicler's attention. Thus, in Brieger's delightful collection of "readings from the literature," last century's medical authorities anticipate our own sagacity and our colleagues' folly in about equal measure.

Here is Oliver Wendell Holmes inveighing against 1848's turgid medical journalism with equal wrath and more grace than most modern commentators. Robert Tomes decries the "dyspeptic... charnel-house aspect" of Yankee rat-racers in the frenzied horse-and-buggy year of 1856. And any modern lipoprotein obfuscator will appreciate Nathaniel Chapman's 1836 redaction of the intestinal fluxes, the gleety stools, frothy stools, glairy stools, copious stools, and the sundry sanious, chymous, and cadaverous dejections that then characterized the disorders of fecation.

Without benefit of antimetabolite or angiograph, Austin Flint in 1862 yet warns against "assaults not less real because well meant." Frederick Barnard's 1873 report on the dread cylindrotaenium

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