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Reviewed by:
  • The History of Cardiothoracic Surgery from Early Times
  • David C. Sabiston Jr.
Raymond Hurt. The History of Cardiothoracic Surgery from Early Times. New York: Parthenon, 1996. xviii + 514 pp. Ill. $98.00.

This is an outstanding volume, being a thorough and well-documented history of an important field. The author is obviously quite familiar with the subject, having trained in cardiothoracic surgery at the Brompton and St. Bartholomew’s Hospitals in London as well as the Stanford University Hospital in San Francisco. For twenty years he taught a postgraduate course in thoracic surgery at the North Middlesex Hospital, and he later published a text on the contents of the course. In recognition of his distinguished career characterized by considerable advanced work, he has received a Diploma in the History of Medicine.

The text begins with primitive surgery, progressing to the early Egyptian period and to Greek and Roman medicine, and to the era of Galen. There follow discussions of the early contributions of the Arab scholars, the impact of the school at Salerno, and the role of surgeons in the Middle Ages. Surgery of the Renaissance is reviewed in detail, with accounts of unique contributions to modern times. Throughout the work the author places attention on significant details, with careful annotation and selected references in the literature.

Foundations for the modern era are accurately reviewed in a very commendable manner. The author’s understanding of the basic physiology and pathology [End Page 164] involved in cardiothoracic surgery is impressive, and one rapidly is convinced that the writer is a dedicated scholar.

Particular attention should be directed toward the selection of illustrations throughout the text, both for their number and for the choices made. Illustrations of the major contributors are included and serve as a unique reference source.

This work is a major literary and historic contribution that can be highly recommended as fascinating reading for all those involved in the broad field of cardiothoracic surgery. I predict that it will be read and reread by present and future generations.

David C. Sabiston Jr.
Duke University Medical Center

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