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      A Family of Doctors--by David J. Hellerstein, MD 


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Interns, 1910, from A Family of Doctors, by David Hellerstein, MD
                                                                                           © 2000,  David Hellerstein
  David Hellerstein, M.D.                 Psychiatrist and Writer


David Hellerstein's 1994 book A Family of Doctors is a history of American medicine as seen through five generations of doctors in one American family--his own. His family's devotion to the practice of medicine goes back to the years of the Civil War, and continues to the present. An account of the author's personal journey to come to terms with his family's past, A Family of Doctors makes clear ow American medicine has developed over more than a century from a chaotic, ineffectual craft into a scientific enterprise that routinely performs miracles.  

"Rewarding artful blend of medical history and family memoir." (Kirkus Reviews)

"His remarkable family memoir is at once the remembrance of American medicine past and a hopeful sign of its future..." (Gerald Weissmann, MD)

"A marvel of family, medical, and personal history interwoven into a seamless saga I couldn't tear myself away from." (Sherwin Nuland, MD, author of How We Die)


Published in 1986, Battles of Life and Death is a collection of thirteen essays about becoming a doctor.   From the unquenched searing pain of the burn unit, to the brave children undergoing kidney transplants, to the death of an elderly woman at a hospital overlooking Manhattan's East River, to the chaos of the psychiatric emergency room. Dramatic, searing and true tales that hold a stethescope to the heart and soul of a young doctor.  Essays first published in Esquire, Ms., and North American Review.

"A forceful and moving human experience." (Medical Tribune)

"Beautifully written...powerful...prize-winning writings on medical training." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

"Fast-paced, readable... [an] admirable attempt to demystify the medical profession." (Boston Herald)

Richard Selzer, MD, author of Rituals of Surgery and other books, wrote: "Battles of Life and Death is a wonderful book.  The excitement, anguish, and joy of attending the sick are fully transmitted.  The pace is fast, the style dramatic.  David Hellerstein is a highly talented writer."

Newsday called Battles of Life and Death "emotionally riveting....The writing is taut, accurate and unsentimental.  And entertaining as well."  The New York Times stated, "Dr. Hellerstein ends by writing with genuine insight and compassion."

And Tobias Wolff, in the original Houghton Mifflin edition, wrote: "Battles of Life and Death is a unique, beautifully written account of the making of a doctor.  In place of the conventional studio portrait of a heroic, miracle-working wizard, David Hellerstein gives us candid pictures of a humnan being forced to confront, hour after hour, his own weakness and mortality in the weakness and mortality of others.  He records, with an honesty that must humble the reader, his occasional evasions and failures of nerve in the face of those confrontations and the partial nature of the victories he wins.  Battles of Life and Death is a remarkable document--dramatic, moving, and true."

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David Hellerstein, MD,   135 Central Park West #1B, New York, NY 10023

DJHell, © 2000, David Hellerstein