Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Final Diagnosis Book Talk

We had a wonderful program here at the North Shelby Library today. Pathologist, Dr. Boris Datnow spoke about his book, The Final Diagnosis: What Autopsies Reveal About Life and Death. This book is a collection of many stories written in an entertaining style for any reader.

During Dr. Datnow's talk he explained various reasons why someone would want to have an autopsy. We often think of autopsy in relation to crime shows where a forensic pathologist has to do an autopsy to find out the cause of death in order to help solve the crime. What about with "natural" death? Sometimes people want closure, someone to blame, or even to find out parentage. It was fascinating. Dr. Datnow also teased us with some of the stories from the book, but refused to tell us the ending. We have to read the book of course. Check out photos from the event here.

We also met another doctor turned writer, Dr. Joseph Lewis, who has just published a book, What Killed the Great and Not So Great Composers. The following is a description from the book:
From a personally assembled database of 13,859 classical musicians, What Killed the Great and not so Great Composers delves into the medical histories of a wide variety of composers from both a musical and medical standpoint. Biographies of musicians from Johann Sebastian Bach of the Baroque period to Benjamin Britten of the Modern era explore in depth their illnesses and the impact their diseases had on musical productivity. Other chapters referenced to specific composers are devoted to such diverse ailments as deafness, mental disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, surgery and war injuries, to name a few. A unique section of statistics and demographics analyzes various aspects of composers’ lives such as their longevity related to contemporaneous nonmusical populations, the incidence of various illnesses they experienced over the centuries and the type of medical problems suffered by the so-called top 100 classical musicians. Although a precise and complete accounting of the great composers’ ailments may never be possible, a general understanding of the medical problems experienced by these unique individuals, nevertheless, can heighten one’s appreciation of their creative processes despite the hardships imposed by their physical and mental illnesses. Although some individuals surrendered to their disabilities for a variety of reasons, others were able to rise above their infirmities and produce the wonderful music mankind has enjoyed through the centuries.

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