David's Reviews > Heirs of General Practice

Heirs of General Practice by John McPhee
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's review
Apr 18, 2008

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bookshelves: read-in-2008
Read in May, 2008

I come from a family of general practitioners - my mother was a G.P. and my sister followed in her footsteps - and I am a fan of John McPhee's writing, in general. So I expected to like this book more than I actually did. The book follows the standard McPhee schema - in-depth reporting on a very specific topic, in this case doctors who choose to work as general practitioners. McPhee provides vignettes of a dozen or so such doctors, almost all of them working in Maine.

McPhee is usually very effective in working from the specific to reach more general insights, and it is clear that he would like to do the same here. That is, by focusing on doctors who have opted out of the mainstream, he would like to illuminate some general truths about the practice of mainstream medicine. However, I think his success in doing so is limited, rarely rising above statement of the obvious. By focusing his microscope only on family practitioners working in Maine, the generalizability of any lessons they might offer is questionable. The needs of communities in Maine cannot be considered particularly representative of the U.S. in general.
So the book never really becomes anything more than a series of isolated vignettes of some individual 'maverick' doctors.

Which is interesting as far as it goes, but I wish McPhee had been able to do more with the material. By the end I felt that an opportunity had been missed.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Yulia (new)

Yulia But if I ever move to Maine and need a GP, I'll definitely check this book out.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)


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