Thursday, March 29, 2007

Re: When Doctors Write

I thought I needed to share this blog from Freakonomics Blog about these two doctors that have written about the doctors in the profession. I am undergoing a painful root canal so this topic is of particular interest to me. Below is a part of the blog:

And two men have just published non-fiction books that seem sure to enhance the literary reputation of doctors.

The first is Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think, which I was asked to blurb – we share a literary agent – and I happily agreed, since I love his writing for The New Yorker. Here’s the quote that Levitt and I supplied: “Jerome Groopman has written a unique, important, and wonderful book about a central paradox of modern life: even though diagnosing an illness is often as much art as science, we want our doctors to speak with scientific surety. Groopman gives a rationalist’s tour of the doctor’s thought processes – or lack thereof – and yet, unlike many rationalists, he never veers toward cynicism. You’ll never look at your own doctor in the same way again – for better or worse.” And I meant every word of it. It is not only Groopman’s intelligence, but also his humanity, that imbues this book with deep meaning.

The second book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, is by Atul Gawande, who also writes for The New Yorker. I haven’t read Better yet, but I loved his previous book, Complications, as well as some of Gawande’s New Yorker pieces that are incorporated into Better. (Particularly memorable were the articles on cystic fibrosis and on the origin of the Apgar test.) Gawande has important things to say about medicine and is a wonderful stylist; if I practiced medicine one-tenth as well as Gawande writes, I would seriously consider opening a little medical practice on the side.

You can read the full blog here. Freakonomics goes on to further talk about how these doctors can write so well. All I can think about is how to get my hands on these books. My shopping cart on Amazon just got heavy.


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