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Book and Media Reviews
October 17, 2007

A History of the Heart

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(15):1805-1810. doi:10.1001/jama.298.15.1806

For an organ that normally weighs a mere 300 g, the human heart packs plenty of punch. Crunch the numbers—approximately 100 000 beats and 8000 gallons of blood pumped daily. Even the heart's anatomy, tagged with names that are exquisite and peculiar enough to be at home in a haiku—chordae tendineae, myofibrils, foramen ovale, and valve leaflets—is astonishing. Yet the importance of the heart goes beyond its form and function. As a symbol, the human heart has personal, cultural, and universal meaning. Can there be any doubt that the heart is the principal symbol of our humanity? A History of the Heart is a scholarly examination of this organ's crucial role in history, literature, art, mythology, music, philosophy, and religion.