|POSTSCRIPTS – Vanderbilt Authors|
|Wednesday, February 15, 2012|
Recently I read two books by authors who are associated with Vanderbilt University.
Blood Work is an historical work that takes us to the Court of Louis XIV and introduces us to the politically charged scientific academies of the time. This was a time of the incredibly wealthy and the totally impoverished and a brilliant young man is trying to work his way into the upper levels of society. Jean-Baptiste Denis in 1667 had graduated from University of Montpellier medical school and gone north to Paris to seek his fame.
What Denis planned to do was to transfuse blood into a human being. This was a radical procedure and one of the first times it had ever been attempted. William Harvey, an Englishman, had discovered in1628 that the blood circulated through the body. Until that time it was thought that blood travelled one way into the heart where it was burned much like fuel to operate the body’s machinery.
This explains why “blood letting” was a common method of treating illnesses for many years. If the heart did not properly burn up the blood, then it accumulated and made that person sick. So it would be drawn out in various hideous ways that we won’t go into here!
There was also a huge competition between England and France for superiority in this field and no one was cooperating in research and discovery. After Denis’ transfusion, the French Parliament banned any transfusions except by those who graduated from University of Paris medical school and they were famously and fervently set against such a procedure. Therefore it was 150 years before any further progress was made in this area. A very interesting book, obviously well researched.
Rupture is an easier read but still full of medical images, in case you have a weak stomach! Eli Branch is a surgeon and a medical researcher. He seems destined for a brilliant career until it is sidelined by a series of events over which he has no control.
Branch has just gone on staff at Gates Memorial Hospital in Memphis and has what he considers to be the ideal situation. He will be on the clinical surgical team and will also be funded for the research that is his passion through the University of the Mid-South. One night he is called in to assist with a surgery. He goes although he was not on call and the surgeon already has an assistant. The patient dies. Branch later discovers that he was set up. But why? What is going on?
As the story progresses another person dies many miles away and the reader discovers something that ties the two deaths together. Branch has a severely retarded older brother who is in an assisted living situation – is it possible that something links him to these deaths as well?
Eli’s dreams have already been shattered but his bad luck just keeps piling up. Following an unexpected offer, he thinks maybe the tide has turned but unfortunately his entire life devolves into a descending spiral with him at the vortex. The last third of this book was of the “read all night” variety. Eli makes intriguing discoveries, keeps staying a step ahead but… I will not reveal any more details. I am truly looking forward to his next novel Public Anatomy which just arrived in the mail today!