May 2, 2010

Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted

(NYTimes) The world was young, leafy green and overrun with dinosaurs so many eons ago that stories from prehistoric times are mostly fantasy and supposition. But the medical world was exactly that young, primitive and full of unusual creatures barely a century ago, giving historians ample fodder for true stories stranger than any fantasy.
Few of them surpass the biography of the man often credited with founding modern American surgery: William Halsted, professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, and lifelong drug addict. Gerald Imber’s new biography is the first retelling of Halsted’s story in many decades and a particularly expert and thought-provoking narrative. Continued