Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont
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Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  35 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A shotgun misfires inside the American Fur Company store in Northern Michigan, and Alexis St. Martin's death appears imminent. It's 1822, and, as the leaders of Mackinac Island examine St. Martin's shot-riddled torso, they decide not to incur a single expense on behalf of the indentured fur trapper. They even go so far as to dismiss the attention of U.S. Army Assistant Sur...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by University of Michigan Press/Regional (first published January 1st 2011)
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Will Byrnes
Dr. William Beaumont, the primary focus of Dr. Jason Karlawish's historical novel, Open Wound, was a real person, a medical pioneer who researched the workings of the human stomach, revolutionizing our understanding of that crucial organ, and informing both dietary wisdom and treatment for gastric ills from that time forward. The way he was able to learn so much was a happy accident, well, happy for him. A Canadian trapper named Alexis St. Martin was in the wrong place at the wrong time, an Amer...more
Mag
Jul 26, 2012 Mag rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: science book group
This novel is written by a physician about another physician alive almost two centuries ago and deals with an interesting ethical and moral dilemma. It’s based a on a real life story of doctor Beaumont and, by today’s standards, his ethically questionable experimentation on a young man whose life he saved.
In 1822 Dr. William Beaumont, an assistant surgeon in the American army stationed on Mackinac Island on Lake Huron, Michigan, found himself called to an accident in which a young French Canadi...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
Nov 30, 2011 Noran Miss Pumkin marked it as a-wishlist
This book would give anyone a stomach ache! It is a pun of course! This book covers the infamous patient that lived with a visible hole to stomach, unlike another story about a man that lived with an open chest wound-where his heart could be viewed. look forward to some reviews prior to adding this book to my medical-historical shelf.
Jillian
I received this book for free as a First Reads giveaway.

Wow. This is one of those books that make you feel like you're still a part of the character's life even after you have stopped reading. Dr. Beaumont's story is so relatable and so tragic, it's hard to pull yourself away from his experiences.

The inside flap of the book's cover says, "even as Beaumont's care of St. Martin continues for decades, the motives and merits of his attention are far from clear." This couldn't be more true. I found...more
Bunnie O'hara
“ I am a humble frontier doctor living on Mackinac Island in Michigan-my education was as apprentice to a rural doctor. Given that I always felt self conscious about my lack of a formal education I was elated to find that I had a chance to upgrade myself when a horrendous accident occurred in June of 1822. An indentured trapper suffered a life threatening wound caused by a shotgun blast to his abdomen . This wound involved the ribs, and a lobe of the lung- I had to clean out debris and wadding...more
Aimeekay
This book was very well written. I had heard of Dr. Beaumont before and had always been interested in how his patient had come to have a hole in his stomach. Mr. Karlawish did an excellent job of bringing this piece of history to life. I was virtually transported back to 1822, and the years that followed, to witness Dr. Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin's often troubled interactions. I say interactions, because they were never truly friends. A friendship requires a form of respect on each side of t...more
John Long
I received this book for free from goodreads for my honest review.

The first thing that really stood out to me about this book is that is very well written. Jason Karlawish's use of language made this book a joy to read. Even though it is a long book, the story flows nicely.

Mr. Karlawish's characters are also wonderfully written. Even those that could come off as "bad guys" are not. Their motivations may be different from Dr. Beaumont (and that may be a good thing) but they are written as overall...more
Christine
I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Open Wound was an interesting read that was based on a true story of a Doctor who wanted to so desperately 'make it' in the medical world that he lost himself along the way.

I liked how the last few pages were facts about the people in the story, and how there was a discussion of the true parts of the story and how the remainder was constructed. This book shared a lot of information on the period of time when fur trading occurred, which was qui...more
Sandra
Growing up in Michigan, Beaumont Hospital was extremely well respected and still is today. It was very interesting to read about him. I thought the subject matter, medical ethics, life in the 1800's, the operation of our government and militia (the army was encouraged to fight the native tribes to keep them busy and sharp), the history of medicine, was fabulous. The research was extensive. However, at times, the book read more like a non fiction documentary instead of a historical fiction novel....more
charlie
Rich thematic novelization of a true story. First time author - a medical doctor - who recognized the potential in this true odd medical obsession story which captures themes of ambition, obsession, the passions of scientific research,discovery and glory, the developing american dream, the potentially unhealthy doctor-patient relationship etc etc. Packs a lot of ideas in a matter of fact detective novel style writing (i.e. short, blunt sentences without a lot of flower). Ran out of gas after a b...more
Toby Schonfeld
A solid 3.5. Well done, for those interested in a novel based on a true medical story.
David
Based on real events, this book recounts the life of Dr. Beaumont, a self-trained physician who possesses what turns out to be blinding ambition. Beaumont saves the life of a guy who suffers a horrendous wound. The wound heals in a way that enables Beaumont to do experiments on digestion. The experiments drive and consume Beaumont. Interesting story but, as this is the author's first book, a bit messy at the edges.
Kati
I found the medical history interesting (if gruesome). I quite disliked the main character, which somewhat diminished my enjoyment of the book. If I was supposed to sympathize at all with Dr. Beaumont, I failed to do so. I would have liked more sections told from St. Martin's point of view... what was HE thinking and feeling?

On the whole, a very interesting book.

I won this as a Goodreads Giveaway, thank you!
Kara
Overall this was a really great read! I really enjoyed the science in it and learning about early medicine. I highly recommend this book! This is for sure a book that I will read a second time or more because you really get to know the characters. I won this through the Goodreads giveaways! It was such a great win!
Lisa
A great book, filled with details that give a true sense of place and tension to the story. Fascinating topic, retold with the non-medical reader in mind. Ending is a bit abrupt. Highly recommend it.
Pamela Saunders
this is a wonderful book written by a colleague of mine at Upenn. It is a fabulous example of narrative medicine for those interested in this field.
Susan
see my review at Reading World.
Bridget
Well written, fascinating window into pioneer history from a perspective new to me. PS medical details may not be for everyone!
Anne Hayes
A fascinating look at a strange event in the history of medicine. Well-penned and an interesting read.
Rebecca
Read this for bookclub at work and met the author - very interesting!!
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Jason Karlawish is a Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. He studied medicine at Northwestern University and trained in internal medicine and geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago.

He cares for patients at the Penn Memory Center. His research focuses on issues in bioethics. With support from the National Institutes of Hea...more
More about Jason Karlawish...

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