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December 21, 1984

Surgery in America: From the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century

Author Affiliations

Rush-Presbyterian—St Luke's Medical Center Chicago

JAMA. 1984;252(23):3303. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350230061040

Medical histories tend to follow several formats. They are either biographical catalogues, historical narratives, or a loosely connected collection of essays or memoirs. Dr Earle has styled his anthology differently, presenting the story of American surgery, "in the words of those who practiced in the past and knew the surgery of their times."

This second, expanded edition of his book includes, "selections from texts, lectures, or articles that shaped the practice and philosophy of American surgery." Items were chosen "that give a feeling both for surgery as it was practiced and for the time in which the piece was written." Each selection is prefaced by a biographical sketch. Sixty illustrations, including many portraits of the surgeon authors, complement the text, and exacting notes are provided for each chapter.

The book begins with the first published description of a surgical procedure performed in an American colony (around 1640), "Abigail Eliot's Head