February 1973

Napoleon's Surgeon.

Author Affiliations

By J Henry Dible. Price, not given. Pp 346. William Heinemann Medical Books Ltd, 23 Bedford Sq, London, 1970.

Arch Surg. 1973;106(2):243. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1973.01350140099033

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This is the best source in English on the life and writings of Baron Larrey. Devoted to his soldiers and respected by Napoleon, who called him "the most virtuous man I have known," Larrey was a courageous innovator. Dible's book documents well his contributions to battlefield surgery: light ambulance wagons to aid the wounded and to move them from danger; better techniques of amputation, of stopping hemorrhage, and of setting fractures; improved care of wounds, a more accurate understanding of the causes and treatment of gangrene. A good teacher, Larrey admonished, "It is not enough to have carried out an operation skillfully; it is just as important to foresee and to prevent the complications which may follow it."

For pleasure and perspective, the surgeon of today should read this excellent book.

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