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September 25, 1991

Memoirs of a Surgical House Office 1936-1942, Vanderbilt University Hospital

JAMA. 1991;266(12):1706. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470120108051

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This memoir includes anecdotes typical of the era—thoracoplasty for tuberculosis, operation on ruptured appendix preantibiotics, multiple-syringe transfusions, $18.75 per month interns—but some with some new spins, such as a conscientious, sleep-deprived resident's suicide. The reader glimpses Alfred Blalock and his laboratory chief, Vivien Thomas, Frank Lahey (in Boston), and other personalities. Prose and photographs evoke the period —one in which "no one gave the slightest thought to a malpractice suit." Typography, with marginal capsules, is most attractive, and the text is smooth and well edited. The author's memoir ends as the Vanderbilt Medical "Vandy" Unit gears for war — the subject of his earlier work, The Fighting 300th.