June 1986

Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surgery

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles


by Vivian T. Thomas, 245 pp, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.

Arch Surg. 1986;121(6):732. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1986.01400060130022

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Of the many illustrious persons who worked with Alfred Blalock, none had a more profound association and influence than did Vivian Thomas. This book is an account of the 34 years of symbiotic relationship between the author and Dr Blalock during a period of surgical, scientific, and sociological change.

As a young black man in Tennessee, Vivian Thomas was headed for a career as a carpenter. He took a job with Dr Blalock at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn, until school started, but stayed on when the bank in which he had his savings collapsed in 1929.

In the years that followed at Vanderbilt and later at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, it is probable that few if any surgeons or research technicians participated so actively in the research development of so many original procedures, instruments, and ideas as did Vivian Thomas.

This fascinating autobiography has twin themes: one is surgical

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