Literatim: Essays at the Intersections of Medicine and Culture

ISBN : 9780190070007

Howard Markel
376 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Dec 2019
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From Howard Markel, author of An Anatomy of Addiction "Absorbing, vivid" - Sherwin Nuland, The New York Times Book Review, front page) and The Kelloggs (2017 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist for Biography), Literatim is a collection of the writer's essays on medicine, American culture, and how their intersections compose the interstitial matter of modern life.
Through topics ranging from illness to baseball to the lives of America's most beloved artists and performers, Markel's eye for the unexamined corners of contemporary life align with his singular storytelling ability for a collection that demonstrates how literature, like medicine, can be a portal to better understanding the human condition.

Selected and with an introduction by the award-winning and bestselling author, Literatim gathers more than 80 essays, a thirty-year retrospective of Markel's work from 1987 to 2019. "Although writers and physicians use markedly different tools and approaches," he writes, "both are recording and interpreting narratives." Literatim is a stirring and entertaining testament to that persisting truth.


Part I: Medical Literature

1.I swear by Apollo - the Hippocratic Oath

2. The death of Samuel Johnson: A clinicopathologic conference

3. Charles Dickens' work to help establish the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London

4. The medical detectives: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Case of Robert Koch's lymph

5. The last alcoholic days of F. Scott Fitzgerald

6. Blowing the Whistle: The internship of William Carlos Williams, MD, and his abrupt resignation from the New York Nursery and Child's Hospital

7. Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith: The great American medical novel

8. Living (and practicing) in the shadow of the house of God

Part II: Medical Texts

9. The stethoscope and the art of listening

10. Experiments and observations: How William Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin Seized the Moment of Scientific Progress

11. On John Snow

12. Dr. Osler's relapsing fever

13. The extraordinary Dr. Biggs

14. Sigmund Freud's long line of cocaine. Part I: Carl Koller

15. Sigmund Freud's long line of cocaine. Part II: the Accidental Addict

16. Exploring the dangerous trades With Dr. Alice Hamilton

17. The Principles and Practice of Medicine: How a textbook, a former Baptist minister, and an oil tycoon shaped the modern American medical and public health industrial-research complex

18. Onward Howard Kelly, marching as to war

19. April 12, 1955 - Tommy Francis and the Salk Vaccine

20. John Harvey Kellogg and the pursuit of wellness

Part III: Medical Performances

21. Grasping at straws: Eugene O'Neill, tuberculosis, and transformation

22. Men in White: the operating room's debut Into popular American culture

23. Not so great moments: The discovery of ether anesthesia and Its re-discovery by Hollywood

24. Calling Dr. Kildare: The literary lives of Frederick Schiller Faust, a.k.a. Max Brand

25.Gotta' sing! Gotta' diagnose! A postmortem examination of Rodgers and Hammerstein's medical musical Allegro

26. Cole Porter's eventful nights and days

27. Physician, heal thyself: Arthur Miller, Henrik Ibsen, and the enemies of the people

Part IV: A Certain PBS-ness of the Soul

28. George Gershwin's too-short life ended on a blue note

29. Elvis' addiction was the perfect prescription for an early death

30. How a strange rumor of Walt Disney's death became legend

31. A symphony of second opinions on Mozart's final illness

32. Marilyn Monroe and the prescription drugs that killed her

33. Did Lou Gehrig actually die of 'Lou Gehrig's disease?

34. The Home Run King Babe Ruth helped pioneer modern cancer treatment

35. Remembering Ryan White, the teen who fought against the stigma of AIDS

36. June 22, 1969: The day Judy Garland's star burned out

37. How 'Raisin in the Sun' author Lorraine Hansberry defined what it meant to be 'young, gifted and black'

38. Edgar Allan Poe's greatest mystery was his death

39. The medical mystery that helped make Thomas Edison an inventor

40. How a hotel convention became ground zero for this deadly bacteria

41. The brilliant brothers behind the Mayo Clinic

42. How Walter Reed earned his status as a legend and hospital namesake

43. Dr. Alzheimer and the patient who helped reveal a devastating disease

44. Diagnosing Vincent Van Gogh

45. How poet John Keats met his early end

46. The infectious disease that sprung Al Capone from Alcatraz

47. Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a renowned medical missionary with a complicated history

48. How playing with dangerous x-rays led to the discovery of radiation treatment for cancer

49. How Medicare came to be, thanks to Harry S. Truman

50. How to save a dying heart

51. C. Everett Koop's rise from 'Dr. Unqualified' to surgeon-in-chief

52. A hormonal happy birthday

53. For Dostoevsky, epilepsy was a matter of both life and literature

54. The death of Oscar Wilde: the wittiest man who ever lived

55. April 23, 1616: the day William Shakespeare died

56. But what caused Houdini's mysterious death?

57. September 29: The Tylenol Murders of 1982

58. The day doctors began to conquer smallpox

59. In 1850, Ignaz Semmelweis saved lives with three words: wash your hands

60. Goodbye, Farewell and Amen: the final episode of M*A*S*H, February 28, 1893

61. Louis Pasteur's risky move to save a boy from almost certain death

62. 'I Have Seen My Death': how the world discovered the X-Ray

63. How a boy became the first to beat back diabetes

64. Alfred Nobel's spirit of discovery

65. The real story behind penicillin

66. The day scientists discovered the 'secret of life'

67. The Surgeon General's famous report that alerted Americans to the deadly dangers of cigarettes

68. The publication of Alcoholics Anonymous: One of the most Influential books in the history of medicine and public health

69. Presidents get sick and die. What happens next hasn't always been clear

70. Dec. 14, 1799: The excruciating final hours of President George Washington

71. The dirty, painful death of President James A. Garfield

72. When a secret president ran the country

73. The 'strange' death of Warren G. Harding

74. Franklin D. Roosevelt's painfully eloquent final words

75. How Florence Nightingale cleaned up 'hell on earth' hospitals and became an international hero

76. Celebrating Rebecca Lee Crumpler, first African-American woman physician

77. How Elizabeth Blackwell became the first female doctor in the U.S.

78. Clara Barton's crusade to bring the Red Cross to America

79. Happy birthday to the woman who revolutionized endocrinology

80. The quarantine of Typhoid Mary Malone

81. How Nellie Bly went undercover to expose abuse of the mentally ill



About the author: 

HOWARD MARKEL, M.D., Ph.D., is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. His books include Quarantine!, When Germs Travel, An Anatomy of Addiction, and The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and The New England Journal of Medicine. Markel is a Guggenheim fellow and member of the National Academy of Medicine. A regular contributor to PBS NewsHour.com, he lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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