William Osler

William Osler : A Life in Medicine

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William Osler was born in a parsonage in backwoods Canada on July 12, 1849. In a life lasting seventy years, he practiced, taught, and wrote about medicine at Canada's McGill University, America's Johns Hopkins University, and finally as Regius Professor at Oxford. At the time of his death in England in 1919, many considered him to be the greatest doctor in the world. Osler, who was a brilliant, innovative teacher and a scholar of the natural history of disease, revolutionised the art of practicing medicine at the bedside of his patients. He was idolised by two generations of medical students and practitioners for whom he came to personify the ideal doctor. But much more than a physician, Osler was a supremely intelligent humanist. In both his writings and his personal life, and through the prism of the tragedy of the Great War, he embodied the art of living. It was perhaps his legendary compassion that elevated his healing talents to an art form and attracted to his private practice students, colleagues, poets (Walt Whitman for example) politicians, royalty, and nameless ordinary people with extraordinary conditions. William Osler's life lucidly illuminates the times in which he lived. Indeed, this is a book not only about the evolution of modern medicine, the training of doctors, holism in medical thought, and the doctor-patient relationship, but also about humanism, Victorianism, the Great War, and much else. Meticulously researched, drawing on many new sources and offering new interpretations, William Osler: A Life in Medicine brings to life both a fascinating man and the formative age of twentieth-century medicine. It is a classic biography of a classic life, both authoritative and highly readable.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 622 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 40.64mm | 997.9g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 37 black and white photographs
  • 0195329600
  • 9780195329605
  • 95,086

Review quote

"...this biographu is a monumental accomplishment."-American Historical Review "It will be an undoubted classic for many years...Bliss's book splendidly champions Osler's compassionate approach to medicine and will surely remain the classical account of one of the most important physicians of the past 100 years."-The Royal Society Notes and RecordsMay 2002 "... this biography is a monumental accomplishment. Osler openly avowed a duty to 'knit together the generations of physicians by honoring the great men of the past in acts of 'filial piety'(p. 249). Bliss has made an outstanding and eminently readable contribution to this endeavor, as well as to the scholarly study of the history of medicine."-American Historical Review "In his handsome new biography Michael Bliss portrays Osler as the living embodiment of the ideal 19th century physician. Bliss's book is more accessible for the modern general reader, compared to Cushing's earlier two-volume biography. Bliss deliberately subjects Osler's personal life and attitudes to more searching scrutiny. To his own surprise, he finds no blot or stain on his subject's character." - Steve Sturdy "Bliss succeeds where Cushing [Osler's first biographer, The Life of Sir William Osler 1925] failed: he engages the reader from the first page. By the last page the reader understands why Osler has generated a century-old awe and affection that shows no signs of dimming. Meticulously researched and crisply written; an excellent book that will educate a variety of audiences."-Choice "Medical historian Michael Bliss' William Osler is a big, sturdy, readable account of Osler's life and the medical advances that were made in his lifetime, a period the author calls 'the age of bacteriology'"-Washington Times "An excellent, readable biography written by a true scholar of medical history who knows his man and his material intimately."-Journal of the American Medical Association "Bliss adroitly captures the turn-of-the-century emergence of modern medicine, which Osler gracefully dominated."-Science News "Eminently readable.... This is the sort of writing that has the air of coming easily off the pen, in spite its scholarly documentation and the enormous wealth of research and erudition hidden between its lines.... A fascinating story about a fascinating man."-Sherwin B. Nuland, The New Republic "Thoroughly documented, this is a biography that is pleasurable to read and deserving of a place in virtually every public, college, and medical library."-Booklist "Medical historian Bliss has written the authoritative modern biography of the 19-century Canadian physician William Osler...This volume replaces Harvey Cushing's two volume tribute, The Life of William Osler (1956) as the definitive text in the field. Highly recommended...essential."-Library Journal (starred review) "A well-told, enjoyable, enlightening-and much needed- biography of a giant of medical practice and education...A first-rate biography of a towering medical figure." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "This beautifully written detailed account however will no doubt become the classic... True, but this excellent and very readable biography does credit to a great and caring physician and I think Sir William would have been proud of it."-Emery Review "Bliss gives a well-paced and intellectually fascinating account of Osler's life. He pins down the significant moments in a spectacularly diverse career as a physician and teacher of medicine who did original research on, among other subjects, the components of blood, and wrote in 1892 The Principles and Practice of Medicine, perhaps the most widely read and admired medical textbook of its time."-The New York Review "Most readers will welcome a biography that is both more manageable in scope and more up to date in its assessment not merely of Osler but also of the bustling and creative medical world of the 19th and early 20th centuries in which he practiced. For a generation of readers whose shared values are so different from Osler's, William Osler: A Life in Medicine is certain to generate a new appreciation of the man and his remarkably diverse achievements."-Gary B. Ferngren, PhD, New England Journal of Medicine "A dutiful social historian, Bliss inquires into Osler's sensitivity to issues of ethnicity, class, and gender." - Ronald L. Numbers, Scienceshow more

About Michael Bliss

Michael Bliss, a professor at the University of Toronto, is an award-winning historian of Canada and of modern medicine. One of his many previous books, The Discovery of Insulin, has been widely recognized as a classic of medical history. Professor Bliss has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He lives in Toronto.show more

Table of contents

Preface: On Doing an Osler Autopsy ; 1. English Gentlemen with American Energy ; 2. Learning to See: Student Years ; 3. The Baby Professor ; 4. The Best Men: Philadelphia ; 5. Starting at Johns Hopkins ; 6. We All Worship Him ; 7. The Great American Doctor ; 8. Leaving America ; 9. A Delightful Life and Place ; 10. Sir William ; 11. All the Youth and Glory of the Country ; 12. Never Use a Crutch ; 13. Osler's Afterlifeshow more

Rating details

96 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 43% (41)
4 42% (40)
3 15% (14)
2 1% (1)
1 0% (0)
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