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November 6, 1967

The Last Words of Ambrose Bierce

Author Affiliations

Bloomington, Hawaii

JAMA. 1967;202(6):551. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130190157039

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To the Editor:—  The coruscating etchings of your editorialists on medical styles of writing have outdone Strunk and White, but ignored the tempi of Fowler. They have not attacked the simple meanings of words.A few years ago, while resting on the highlands outside Guanajuato, the blowing wind uncovered the skeleton of a hand, clutching a sheaf of yellowed papers. Dumbstruck, I seized the fragments, while the desiccated phalanges, pulverized by time, melted into the winds of St. Michael of Allende. Not until I had deciphered the crumbling scraps did I realize that the hand had been that of Ambrose Bierce, holding the last of his dictionary out to posterity.With great humility, and respect for this artist of the reverent word, I present these items of Bierce to the medical world:

Bruisability:—  The manly art of hanging one on an old friend, thereafter former, and a new enemy.