Known all over the world for his surgical skills, his must-read surgical textbook SCHWARTZ'S PRINCIPLES OF SURGERY (its 7th edition sold more than half a million copies), Seymour Schwartz is a Renaissance man. Just as well recognized among the mapping conoscenti as are his medical books in the operating rooms, the cartographic brilliance of his works on historical maps dominate the map world. Dr Schwartz is famous for his seminal PUTTING "AMERICA" ON THE MAP: THE STORY OF THE MOST IMPORTANT GRAPHIC DOCUMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.
Dr. Schwartz's new book, GIFTED HANDS adds one more work to his distinguished output. For now the historian turns his attention from maps to his first love (I think) surgery. In GIFTED HANDS, Seymour Schwartz looks at the history of surgery from its early barber-shop aggressiveness to the modern-day surgical daring-do of cardiac surgery, organ transplants, and robotics.
Extensively researched from Henri de Mondeville's TREATISE ON SURGERY (1260-1320) through pre-Columbian and Colonial times, to modern burn therapy, transfusions, and the late Judah Folkman's findings on vascular biology and anti-angiogenic agents for cancer therapy, GIFTED HANDS is a page-turner. But one with a point of view.
Quoting de Mondeville, Schwartz establishes his perspective: "The doings of surgery are visible and manifest while those of medicine are hidden, which is very fortunate for many physicians" (italics mine). Schwartz's history portrays "surgery as undoubtedly...superior to medicine." Schwartz depicts the old surgeons and the new as beings superior to "ordinary" internists and family physicians.
For anyone interested in what makes--and has made--surgery and those special individuals known as surgeons--tick through the centuries, GIFTED HANDS is an exciting book. You don't have to be a medical student or a surgical resident to care about this story of surgical mysteries and its practitioners. Now it's time for internists and family practitioners to write their own story of doctors looking more inside rather than outside the world of disease.