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August 21, 1981

Gentle Vengeance: An Account of the First Year at Harvard Medical School

JAMA. 1981;246(8):893. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320080073040

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Charles LeBaron, a 34-year-old nonscientist with middle-class roots, provides a fresh and sprightly perspective of the first year at Harvard Medical School. In this autobiographical work, he weaves a spell that resurrects old nightmares and lost memories from my medical school experience. Although Harvard probably epitomizes an extreme of medical school establishments, the poignant truths LeBaron exposes must apply to all: the hypocrisy of many academic and administrative faculty members (nice guys with daggers in their cloaks); the mystery shrouding the power structure that squelches appeals for change and redress; the outrageous and inhumane expectations concerning the volume of information medical students must ingest mockery of what was taught as the core course material; the frustration that envelops the class, leading to escapist and rowdy behavior (drugs, alcohol, and orgies); and, finally, the Saturday laboratories and exams that, by robbing medical students of