I love reading about science in all its forms, but I find many science articles in the mass media to be dumbed down or poorly written and thus uninteresting. During a recent trip to the library, I happened upon this collection and decided to give it a try. My experiment was well-rewarded, as this is a superb collection of fascinating and well-written stories. Some standouts in this collection include Atul Gawande’s “The Score“, which traces the industrialization of childbirth (though I would argue that improvements in anesthesiology have made almost as big an impact); Lawrence Altman’s “The Man on the Table Devised the Surgery“, about Michael E. DeBakey’s very unusual surgery in 2006, and Jerome Groopman’s “Being There“. This last was especially poignant for me, as it discusses the pros and cons of allowing family members to be present during resuscitation attempts for trauma victims. I will carry to my grave the sounds and sights of Dad’s visit to the Albany Medical Center emergency department, and I still am not able to decide if it was good or bad that I saw those things.
Anyway, I highly recommend this book, and I’ll be on the hunt for the 2008 edition when it’s published.