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Book Review
November 16, 2009

The Life and Times of Allen Oldfather Whipple: The Missionary and the Surgeon

Arch Surg. 2009;144(11):1089. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2009.163

The distinguished pancreatic surgeon John M. Howard, MD, has provided us with the definitive historical account of the great American surgeon Allen Oldfather Whipple, MD. The insight of Howard, based on his own experience as a pancreatic surgeon and his place in the history of this field, makes him one of the few living individuals who could accomplish this task with such success. Howard treats the subject of Allen O. Whipple as if it were a scientific question. That is, to best understand the process, one must study all related events. In this regard, the author does not begin with the birth of Whipple; he instead begins with the earliest origins of the family in England. Howard goes on to follow Whipple's ancestry from the immigration of his family to America to his birth in Persia (Iran) to missionary parents. The rationale behind this detailed history is that to fully understand the man, one is first required to understand his roots. The importance of this philosophy is evident as one realizes that the strengths and work ethic of Whipple were instilled in him by his family.