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Books, Journals, New Media
November 25, 1998

Pediatrics: Dr. Spock: An American Life

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;280(20):1796. doi:10.1001/jama.280.20.1796-JBK1125-2-1

Thomas Maier has done a remarkable job of reconstructing the 94-year life of Dr Benjamin Spock, which ended in March. Spock, who was named by Life magazine as one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century, was alive during the 3 years over which the book was written and cooperated by permitting a number of interviews and making available notes and correspondence that illuminate the story.

On the surface, it's a simple one. Spock was born into a family of wealth and status. His mother eschewed bridge to be with her children. She never learned to cook, and there were always two household servants. Spock's father went to Yale before him and was in one of its prestigious secret societies, Wolf's Head. Ben Spock graduated from Andover, followed his father to Yale, and was tapped for Scroll and Key after his Yale shell won the Olympic Gold Medal in Paris; he was considered by some to be responsible for the victory. He was first in his class during his freshman and senior years at Columbia Medical School.