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In the years following World War II, medicine won major battles against smallpox, diphtheria, and polio. In the same period it also produced treatments to control the progress of Parkinson's, rheumatoid arthritis, and schizophrenia. It made realities of open-heart surgery, organ transplants, test-tube babies. Unquestionably, the medical accomplishments of the postwar years stand at the forefront of human endeavor, yet progress in recent decades has slowed nearly to a halt. In this winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, medical doctor and columnist James Le Fanu both surveys the glories of medicine in the postwar years and analyzes the factors that for the past twenty-five years have increasingly widened the gulf between achievement and advancement: the social theories of medicine, ethical issues, and political debates over health care that have hobbled the development of vaccines and discovery of new "miracle" cures. While fully demonstrating the extraordinary progress effected by medical research in the latter half of the twentieth century, Le Fanu also identifies the perils that confront medicine in the twenty-first. 16 pages of black-and-white photographs add to what the Los Angeles Times cited as "a sobering, contrarian challenge" to the "nostrum of medicine as a never-ending font of 'miracle cures'. " "[From] a respected science writer . . . important information that . . . has been overlooked or ignored by many physicians. " -New Republic "Provocative and engrossing and informative. " -Houston Chronicle "Marvelously written, meticulously researched . . . one of the most thought-provoking and important works to appear in recent years. " -Choice
In this daring treatise on the current state of scientific inquiry, James Le Fanu challenges the common assumption that further progress in genetic research and neuroscience must ultimately explain all there is to know about life and man's place in the world. On the contrary, he argues, the most recent scientific findings point to an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the genes strung out along the Double Helix and the beauty and diversity of the living world--and between the electrical activity of the brain and the abundant creativity of the human mind. His exploration of these mysteries, and his analysis of where they might lead us in our thinking about the nature and purpose of human existence, form the impassioned and riveting heart of Why Us?From the Trade Paperback edition.ysteries, and his analysis of where they might lead us in our thinking about the nature and purpose of human existence, form the impassioned and riveting heart of Why Us?From the Hardcover edition.
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