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Book Reviews : A bibliography of medical and biomedical biography

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


This is Leslie Morton's (1907–2004) last book. His name was immortalized in Morton's medical bibliography (fifth edition published in 1991)—commonly referred to as Garrison and Morton—a standard reference work for anyone working in medical history. The first edition of A bibliography of medical and biomedical biography was published in 1989, and A chronology of medicine and related sciences, also by Leslie Morton and Robert Moore, appeared in 1997. Both these are valuable counterparts to Garrison and Morton. The 1989 edition of Morton and Moore's A bibliography of medical and biomedical biography was restricted to English-language publications, but references to relevant literature in many European languages including French, German and Russian were added in the following editions. There are 3740 biographies in the present edition compared with 2368 in the second edition. The entry for each individual includes birth and death dates, nationality and speciality, sometimes followed by a note of the main contribution to medical science (usually the first descripton of a clinical sign or disease entity), or position held (for example, president of a royal college, university professor, or surgeon-in-chief to the army). This is followed by biographical references, including autobiographies. Occasionally relevant archival collections are also noted. A drawback is a haphazard selection of entries that gives undue weight to certain periods and countries. A sample of the first 100 entries shows that half the names are British or North American, and more than 60 per cent of the persons listed were born after 1800. It remains unclear what criteria were used for selection. In the introduction the compilers warn “that the biographies of some distinguished persons are missing because they have still to be written or are represented by very brief accounts”. This is not necessarily so. Several accounts of the French surgeon Thierry de Martel have been published yet they are not included. The same is true for the Russ

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