Marvin Stone prefaces this engaging autobiography by stating his purpose “is to convey to anyone interested in a medical career the excitement and fascination intrinsic to becoming and serving as a physician. “As autobiographies go, it is an easy read and remarkably uplifting. Like the man himself the text is straightforward, orderly, engaging, and kid. It will appeal to a broad readership and will be of value to future historians seeking to understand what will perhaps be designated “the golden age of can therapy,” the decades during which clinical oncology came of age.
Several books furthered my interest in medicine: Fifty Years a Surgeon1 by Robert T. Morris, The Century of the Surgeon2 by Jürgen Thorwald, and For Future Doctors3 by Alan Gregg were exciting to read. Gregg’s book was especially helpful in explaining professionalism and its importance in the practice of medicine. Later I read other books which encouraged young people of a previous generation to consider a career in medicine: Microbe Hunters4 by Paul de Kruif, Arrowsmith5 by Sinclair Lewis, and The Life of Sir William Osler6 by Harvey Cushing. Cushing had been a houseofficer at Johns Hopkins and a next-door neighbor of Osler’s. I would still recommend these works to budding physicians except to replace Cushing’s biography of Osler with Michael Bliss’s monumental William Osler: A Life in Medicine,7 published in 1999, the sesquicentennial of Osler’s birth.
Throughout my life I have come across many other books that are valuable for people considering medicine as a career. The Youngest Science8 by Lewis Thomas is an exceptional memoir about becoming a doctor in the early 20th century and the experiences that influenced Thomas, the young son of a general practitioner. Other works by Lewis Thomas are also excellent, starting with his “Notes of a Biology Watcher” articles in the New England Journal of Medicine. Subsequent books include Lives of a Cell,9 The Medusa and the Snail,10 and The Fragile Species.11 On Doctoring,12 edited by Richard Reynolds and John Stone, is a valuable anthology of essays and excerpts about medicine. Bernard Lown’s The Lost Art of Healing13 is a fascinating tour through a medical career by a famous cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureatea who developed the technique of electrical cardioversion. In this book published in 1996, he emphasizes the human side of interacting with patients. Dr. Lown is now 96 years old and feels that medical education is overly skewed toward the biomedical sciences and esoterica. He believes that doctors need time to engage with the humanities, because they are the gateway to the human experience.14 The best one-volume book on medical history is The Greatest Benefit to Mankind15 by Roy Porter. An excellent review of medical history in the second millennium was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.16 When I was a medical student, I found a little gem called The Quiet Art17 by Robert Coope and have enjoyed it immensely through the years. A doctor’s anthology, it is full of delightful quotations from many sources. A collection of medical articles from The New York Times provides a glimpse of the evolution of modern medicine during the past 160 years.18