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March 12, 1955

Doctors' Legacy: A Selection of Physicians' Letters, 1721-1954

JAMA. 1955;157(11):976. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02950280100050

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Letters have always provided a means for obtaining a revealing glimpse into the lives of their authors. This book contains an assembly of letters written by physicians over a period of 250 years, far removed from one another in time, place, and professional and social milieus. The letters deal with a variety of problems that have interested physicians for generations— medical practice, medical ethics, aspirations and disillusionments, discoveries and failures, economic and religious beliefs, hard work and intellectual rewards, and the ingratitude of some patients and of their willingness to pay heed to quacks. Many of the letters hold special historical interest, as for example, Thomas Huxley's on state interference in medicine, Anton Chekhov's on medicine and literature, Leslie Falk's on the development of penicillin, Freud's comment on his early work on the neuroses, Oliver Wendell Holmes' on the public acceptance of quackery, and Lord Berkeley Moynihan's on euthanasia. By

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