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42 papers dealing with various aspects of thrombin ranging from die basic chemistry of the molecule to various clinical aspects. Isolation and structural aspects of die prothrombin and the thrombin molecule are discussed in several papers. Of particular interest is the paper on the development of competitive reversible inhibitors of thrombin. Several papers deal with the activation of thrombin, including die mechanism of action ofantithrombin III and its potentiation by heparin, interaction with the alpha I antitrypsin-antiplasmin molecule. A series of papers deals with die interactions between thrombin and platelets. A most exciting group of papers discusses recent data on the role of thrombin in die initiation of cell division and related phenomena. AU the authors are active research workers and recognized experts in dieir fields. The book can be highly recommended to all hematologists and especially those active in the field of blood coagulation and related areas. Julian L. Ambrus and Clara M. Ambrus Roswell Park Memorial Institute 666 Elm Street Buffalo, New York 14263 Retrospectroscope: Insights into Medical Discovery. By Julius H. Comroe, Jr. Menlo Park, CaUf.: Von Gehr Press, 1977. Pp. 182. $5.00. During the past 2 years I have been eagerly looking forward to each issue of the American Review of Respiratory Diseases to be able to read die articles by Dr. JuUus Comroe, Jr., on the "RETROSPECTROSCOPE," and here I luckUy find diese most interesting, humorous, informative, excellent articles together inside one cover. Comroe states in his preface diat he wanted to collect data thatwould enable one to learn how to get the most from die research dollar. To do this he carried out research activity on what factors had brought to materialization important discoveries in medicine and surgery. He employed his RETROSPECTROSCOPE in an effort to ". . . find the seed and roots of modern miracles (none ofwhich appears to have occurred by spontaneous generation)." Many facets of research have been examined. Favorable factors diat Comroe discusses include curiosity, initiative, alertness, sagacity, energy, chance, proper timing, and serendipity on die part of an observer. He incidentally accepts the following definition for serendipity: "Looking for a needle in a haystack hut coming up with an ugly toad which die finder recognizes as die farmer's beautiful daughter and miraculously converts the toad to daughter." After conaideTtng numerous discoveries, many of which did not seem originally to have a relationship to their ultimate use, Comroe says that "the RETROSPECTROSCOPE has not disclosed a simple or ioyal wad to success in medical discovery." Some frailties of scientists are pointed out, such as the frowning by "authorities " on (correct) ideas of those lese prominent, opportunities for correla* tion that seem obvious now but which were missed, lack of conöero, misquoting ofstatements ofothers, and lack ofrecognition ofworthy concepts. On dieother band, laud and honor are given to qualities that have produced valuable results in medicalresearch. Ideas from youth especially medicalstudents and men widi Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Summer 1978 | 633 litde fo^pal education, the value ofcooperation between various disciplines, and the benefits of using the prepared mind are praised. The last section ofthe book holds an intriguing account ofthe development of knowledge that is utilized in treatment of the respiratory distress syndrome. Involved are stories of discoveries by men who didn't even know die syndrome existed. Fortuitous was the assignment ofpersons ofquite different backgrounds to positions where diey could communicate. Vignettes are delightful. For example: "I've used the RETROSPECTROSCOPE —to look backwards—from the level of the brightness of today to the murkiness or darkness of decades or centuries ago when 'breakdiroughs' were rewarded by burning at the stake instead of the Nobel prize." Numerous similar appropriate statements tempt the reviewer to include many more of them. They arise from the pen of a man who is humble, concise, a straight thinker, aware of the advances we could make by better cooperation, and anxious to do what he can to further more fruitful activity. Throughout die book one encounters pleasing anecdotes concerning vagaries of the personalities whose work has been investigated. The author has uncovered a tremendous amount of information about the personal lives and thoughts ofearly scientists. I suspect that most persons interested...


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