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Simpson and Syme of Edinburgh

Medical History
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
  • Book Reviews
  • Education
  • Medicine


Book Reviews Only three of the essays are taken from Aequanimitas, which is still readily available. The value of the collection is greatly enhanced by the commentaries of the fourteen distinguished American medical specialists and librarians, which puts each essay critically in perspective. In the sum of its parts, it is a book which may be read and enjoyed by those who are interested in medical education and its destination. A Way ofLife has been described as 'a lay sermon which an archbishop might not be ashamed to have written'. The way of life that it preaches is the practice of living for the day only, and for the day's work, Life in day-tight compartments. It is an 'elegantly produced volume, which arrives from the publisher unopened. Part of the preparation for its reading is the leisurely opening of the leaves with your silver-bladed knife. Ifyou like a sermon, this is a good one. JOHN CULE Simpson and Syme of Edinburgh, by JOHN A. SHEPHERD, Edinburgh and London, E. & S. Livingstone, 1969, pp. xvi, 288, illus., £2.10. This account of the lives of James Syme and James Young Simpson provides the opportunity for Mr. Shepherd to give a fascinating impression of Edinburgh and its medical school during the nineteenth century. Syme and Simpson were born in 1799 and 1811 respectively and both died in 1870. Except for Syme's briefappointment to University College Hospital, London, both spent their professional lives in Edin- burgh. The characters of the two men are assessed and it is remarkable how different they were. Syme's personality demands sympathetic study and considerable insight, and this the author shows throughout. Simpson's dynamic drive is evident and so is his relentless pursuit of knowledge. A lesser character might have made Simpson's discoveries; but it needed the great Simpson to publicize them and develop them so that in no time medicine had been transformed. Some writers have suggested that Simpson does not deserve the credit for the strik- ing advance made when chlorof

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