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Book and Media Reviews
April 18, 2012

Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Medical Education, Oakwood Health System, Dearborn, Michigan (natasha.bagdasarian@oakwood.org).

JAMA. 2012;307(15):1648-1649. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.495

Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr William Beaumont by Jason Karlawish is a novel based on the life of a real-life 19th-century army surgeon best remembered for his study of human digestion. The surgeon, William Beaumont, published a text entitled Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion in 1833, in which he described the chemical nature of digestion. Until that time, digestion had been considered by many to be a purely mechanical process in which food was churned and pulverized in the stomach. Beaumont's book received mixed reviews, but his story is intriguing for the methods he used to study human digestion.