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August 20, 1997

An Alarming History of Famous and Difficult! Patients: Amusing Medical Anecdotes From Typhoid Mary to FDR

JAMA. 1997;278(7):599. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550070091048

I suspect that within most of us there is a fascination with the peculiarities of other people's lives: witness the popularity of television shows depicting the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" and supermarket tabloids.

Such fascination—served up with greater sophistication and historical accuracy—is the fare of Richard Gordon's latest book, an account of the maladies of 39 famous patients throughout history, each of whom has a chapter in this slender volume. The chapters stand alone, making it a good bedside book.

That said, I doubt that Sir William (Osier) would have included it in his "bedside library for medical students,"1 the intent of which was to impart to the student the education, "if not of a scholar, at least of a gentleman." Nevertheless, it's a good read.

Gordon is a British physician who has published two score books, including the famous Doctor in the House series, adapted for stage