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The Body In Question
ISBN 0333329783 / 9780333329788 / 0-333-32978-3
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The Body in Question is a reprint of the 1980 book written by Dr Jonathan Miller to complement his then TV series. As the subject is the history and rationale of man's attitude to his own body, one might expect the book to have dated. After all, few things are more otiose than yesterday's medical knowledge. However, the author's lofty philosophical perspective, and distantly literary approach, ensure the text is as refreshingly different as when first written.
The book falls gracefully into eight sections, each dealing with some major aspect of medicine or anatomy. The first, Natural Shocks, concerns itself with the nervous system, the second section analyses the body's ailments, and diagnoses thereof. And so on. All the sections are liberally wreathed with allusion and anecdote: yes, there's plenty of stuff about the spleen and the pancreas-- there's also the surprising info that Mozart wrote tunes for robot pianos, and that a dog with no gullet will drink until it drops.
Anyone seeking practical medical knowledge should not look here; nor should anyone wanting relevant advice on, say, alternative medicine, or psychiatry: Miller's style and subject range is too pointed, choosy, cerebral. But that's also what makes this book so unique, and therefore engaging. --Sean Thomas [via]