Seeking the Cure: A History of Medicine in America

Written by Ira Rutkow
Review by Sue Asher

To tell the history of medicine in America is a Herculean task. How can the story possibly be told in a single volume? Ira Rutkow, surgeon, author, and medical historian, is well-qualified for the effort. He packs a wealth of information in this readable, well-paced book. The narrative of medicine’s progress is told primarily as a series of anecdotes. The author manages to include a broad array of topics from clinical medicine, to the rise of hospitals and medical schools, to advances in research and the evolution of the medical-industrial complex. It is essentially a history of “great men.” The reader follows a parade of these physician-giants, witnessing their successes and failures, all of which culminates in the medical care system we know today. With health care such a vital part of the national agenda, it’s important to understand how it came to be at the same time so great and so flawed. While no single volume can tell the whole story of medicine in America, Seeking the Cure is a wonderful place to start.