Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University
of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.
There are many ways to address the daunting task of reviewing the 22nd
edition of Cecil Textbook of Medicine, particularly
as it includes the traditional two-volume hardbound copy and a CD-ROM for
expanded online access. The task triggered a historian's curiosity about insights
one might glean about medicine and society by looking at textbooks of medicine
from their earliest days.
Laudatory histories of the "great men" of medicine and literary and
Hollywood treatment of physicians have perpetuated the myth of the fiercely
independent physician struggling against disease, antiquated colleagues or
belief systems, or impersonal institutions. In truth, medicine has long been
a team endeavor, as have its modern textbooks. Even Sir William Osler, whose
reputation as physician-extraordinaire was cemented by the 1893 Principles and Practice of Medicine—the first modern textbook
of medicine and the basis of generations of internal medicine texts—acknowledged
the critical assistance provided to him by a small cadre of dedicated assistants
who "took the ward work off my hands," conducted library searches, and checked
Grey MR. Medicine. JAMA. 2004;292(10):1238–1239. doi:10.1001/jama.292.10.1238-b
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