Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review Tuesday: 'Not your ordinary doctor'

Today’s ‘Review Tuesday’. A fortnight ago I reviewed The Pen & the Stethoscope – a collection of short stories all written by doctors [1]. As chance – or perhaps grand design – would have it, of the several library books I had on order, the one that arrived next for me was on a somewhat related topic. Not your ordinary doctor is a 346-page 2010 non-fiction book about doctors who’ve also pursued non-medical fields of endeavour [2, 3]. In most cases their non-medical fame (or notoriety) exceeded their medical repute; in other cases vice versa. Author Dr Jim Leavesley tells the stories of sixty ‘medical truants’ comprising doctors to royalty and national leaders; doctors in the arts; doctors who’ve been adventurers, inventors, athletes or politicians; and doctors who’ve been criminals. Several of their names are well known – including Aristotle, Keats, Maugham, Roget, Borodin, Conan Doyle, Chekhov, Gatling, Bass, Livingstone, Grace, Bannister, Montessori, Crippen – and some not. Only a few are Australians. Only a few are women. And only a few are contemporary. This is the eleventh book written by Dr Leavesley (who since 1986 has been an accomplished and loved ABC broadcaster) [4]. He writes nicely. But all too often excessive factual detail distracts from his main theme. Yet overall this is book’s fascinating. And its 16 cm square format’s refreshingly different. Though the cover photograph relevance escapes me. Ho hum.

No comments: