Edited by William & Helen Bynum
Thames & Hudson, $45.00, 304 pages

Great Discoveries in Medicine is definitely not for the squeamish. Some of the pictures are graphically explicit and obviously designed for trained medical personnel. Dating back to the Ptolemaic period (332 – 30 BC), it looks at the crude beginnings of human anatomical discoveries, documentations, drawings and rationales even to the point of itemizing the demographic origination of various procedures, both time-honored and deplorable.

A fascinating work of historical relevance to the profession of healing, Great Discoveries in Medicine shows us how far we’ve come in our healing practices and how difficult life was in ancient times and places. From bloodletting to giving birth, from the invention of the sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) to lasers and from germs to transplant surgeries, discoverers and usages are discussed in the greatest detail. Kind of a secret, naughty pleasure, like slowing down and morbidly looking closely at a horrible traffic accident, this book is engrossing, informative and leaves you appreciating the era in which we now live; how far the medical field has come and the sacrifices made to get here.

Only because of the “R rating”, it would not do well as a coffee table book for just anyone to pick up but a wonderful addition to any library exuding knowledge as its intent.

Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson,