Could Lincoln have lived? After John Wilkes Booth fired a low-velocity .44 caliber bullet into the back of the president's skull, Lincoln did not perish immediately. Attending doctors cleaned and probed the wound, and actually improved his breathing for a time. Today medical trauma teams help similar victims survive - including Gabby Giffords, whose injury was strikingly like Lincoln's. In Diagnosing Giants, Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak examines the historical record in detail, reconstructing Lincoln's last hours moment by moment to calculate the odds. That leads him to more questions: What if he had lived? What sort of neurological function would he have had? What kind of a Constitutional crisis would have ensued?
Dr. Mackowiak, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, offers a gripping and authoritative account of 13 patients who took center stage in world history. The result is a new understanding of how the past unfolded, as well as a sweeping survey of the history of medicine. What was the ailment that drove Caligula mad? Why did Stonewall Jackson die after having an arm amputated, when so many other Civil War soldiers survived such operations? As with Lincoln, the author explores the full context of his subjects' lives and the impact of each case on the course of history, from Tutankhamen, Buddha, and John Paul Jones to Darwin, Lenin, and Eleanor Roosevelt. When an author illuminates the past with state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, listeners pay attention.
Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic, about the medical malpractice that killed President James A. Garfield, was a New York Times best seller. And Dr. Mackowiak's previous book, Post-Mortem: Solving History's Greatest Medical Mysteries, won the attention of periodicals as diverse as the Wall Street Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine, which pleaded for a sequel. With Diagnosing Giants, he has written one with impeccable expertise and panache.
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Another bad narrator taints an interesting book!
The content of this book is fascinating to a science person like myself. However, the narrator was very distracting. Does anybody remember the old sit-com "Rhoda"? Well, I now know what became of "This is Carlton, you doorman.". He is narrating audio books! At some points he reads ponderously slowly and frequently mispronounces words. He gets the science terms right, but bungles everyday English words. I realize there are alternate pronunciations to many words, but I looked some of the ones he fluffed up and what he said is just plain wrong. It's a shame - the book is really fascinating, but I now wish I had read the print copy.
- Karen Vincent
Anyone else. My dog could've done better.
This is an excellent and informative book, but the narrator's voice was so somnelent and adenoidal it was horribly unpleasant. I felt like I was listening to a truculent, bored teenager with a headcold.