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Book Reviews and Other Media
Aug 2012

Reading Medical Memoirs

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Children's Mercy Bioethics Center, University of Missouri–Kansas City, Missouri.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(8):779-780. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.1741

I always feel a little trepidation when I pick up a medical memoir. The titles promise much (eg, Fourth Uncle in the Mountain: Memoirs of a Barefoot Doctor in Vietnam or Daktari: A Surgeon's Adventures With the Flying Doctors of East Africa), but the books rarely deliver. The stories are usually formulaic. As Christine Gleason writes in her memoir: “Some of the stories are unbearably sad. . . . Others tell of babies who survived and did well, against seemingly impossible odds. And a few of the stories are downright embarrassing, . . . ”