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The Youngest Science

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  502 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A doctor's fascinating view of what medicine was, and what it has become.

Thomas first learned about medicine by watching his father practice in an era when doctors comforted rather than healed.

Looking back upon his experiences as a medical student, young doctor, and senior researcher, Thomas notes that medicine is now rich in possibility and promise.
Published 2007 by Penguin Books (first published 1983)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Jim
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like Thomas. He has some opinions, even strong ones, but he's nice about it & obviously ready to change his mind if new data comes in. His reminiscences are informative, occasionally funny, & always interesting. His experience in medicine & this book start with his father, a family physician in Flushing, NY (Queens) in the 1920s. He becomes a doctor in the early 1930s & all they could usually do was comfort patients until sulfa drugs came along later in that decade. His ...more
Katie Bananas
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
D. Ryan
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I re-read this after my first year of medical school. I first read it in high school but didn't understand just how unique and valuable this book really is.
Linus Williams
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating account of how medicine has changed since the early 20th century and what it has become. Dr. Thomas lived, worked, and researched through some of the most interesting medical times, and he writes clearly and vividly about them. I am a better doctor-to-be, researcher, and indeed person for having read this book. A must-read.
Mish
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A not overly technical book, this still held my interest and gave a nice overview of one man's experience with Medicine, from the founding of the M.D/Ph.D. program to advances in immunology, as well as some general musings about the future of medicine.
Very broad strokes. But accessible for the layperson. 5/5 for sure.
Charles
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The evolution of medicine from art to science

Although he refers to himself as a watcher, Lewis Thomas was very much a participant in the major event where medicine went from being personal and in some ways useless to a science where cures were routine. He starts the book with a description of the role of a physician before the Second World War. His father was a physician who had an office in their home, although most of his work was making house calls and hospital rounds. In those days, before
...more
Scott J Pearson
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lewis Thomas spent his life revolving around various aspects of medicine apprenticeship, patients, research, administration, being a patient, and writing. In this memoir, he shares tales and insights from all of these experiences in an easy-to-digest and relatable format.

I especially enjoyed his notes from his time as Dean of Yales medical school. Perhaps its because I work for an associate dean of medicine now. I appreciate his admonishments not to intervene too much in faculty affairs. If a
...more
Bethany Divakaran
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
As a nurse, I found the biographical/historical parts of this book fascinating and the author's insights related to medicine interesting. He gets a bit too nerdy-detailed about his own work at times, but hey, he wrote the book. I liked how the story had an overarching storyline but each chapter spoke about something specific. I'd be interested in reading more of his work.
Kristina
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
All three Thomas books are apologies for meaning to be found in creation. Sadly, the author falls short of tying that back to God. Nevertheless, he comes so close, and his explanation is beautiful.
Caitlin Sweeting
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable journey through medicine in the 20th century framed by Dr Thomas's own impressive experiences. It gives interesting insight into events that have shaped today's healthcare.
Sue
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading Lewis Thomas since the '70s, but I had not read this one. His earlier books of essays and thoughts (The Lives of a Cell and The Medusa and the Snail), many published in the New England Journal of Medicine, are among the most prized books in my collection. The Youngest Science is very interesting as a history of medicine and medical training, but I also enjoy his personal reflections very much. It is amazing how much Medicine has progressed during my lifetime. So many of ...more
Ryan
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: hcl
Apparently I read this a couple years ago. Ima read it again, or try to. Siddhartha Mukherjee was really impressed by the book when he was a med student, and I just learned about his books other than Emperor of All Maladies.
Elaine
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting perspective on the history of Medicine as Dr Thomas recalled the exciting advances in medicine.
Krishna Shrinivas
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gentlemen scholar's reflections on the coming of age of medicine, molecular biology, immunology, and the academic paradigm in modern america.
Dan
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Lewis Thomas gives a personal history of his life in medicine. His father was a turn-of-the-century doctor, and his own career started in the thirties so he can cover most of the amazing changes in 20th century medicine.

The early going was fascinating as he described the very different world of medicine at the start of the century, but as the years go on the reminisces become much more personal, about who was working in this lab and which person he met at the public health board. His good sense
...more
Elizabeth Eslami
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is, I believe, my fourth or fifth experience reading Lewis Thomas, and he never ceases to delight. Somehow he manages to be a crackerjack scientist and doctor, a clever, gently funny writer, and insanely avuncular simultaneously. Every patient - past, present, or future - should read his thoughtful essay here on Illness. And for those of you of a more literary bent who forswear books with scientific jargon, let me entice you with this tidbit: None other than Joyce Carol Oates first ...more
Roberta
This is why I love being in a book group - to get an assignment like this, a book I would never come across. It's a collection of essays that give you insight into the earlier years of modern medicine. The most timeless is simply called Illness, in which he makes the point that you can become a better doctor after experiencing illness yourself.
Chris Comis
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-magic
Great book on the not-so-distant attempts of modern day (witch) doctors to understand the inner essences of all things somatic. Pretty interesting stuff at the end there on Lewis' attempts to understand the root causes of cancer.
Spencer
May 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Marc Stryker
A journal-like commentary on the state of medicine past, present, and future. It's funny because his comments in 1975 about the state of medicine are just as accurate if made today. A great read. My favorite chapter is his praise of the nursing profession.
Lafe
A really great book about medicine in the last century. It is written in a conversational tone. It is great for anyone wanting to learn more about medicine and read a great book. It is now one of my favorite books.
Anastasia
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting accounts of discovery and failure in academic medicine in New York City as it evolved from an art to a science. Particulary interesting to those who trained at the institutions mentioned: NYU Bellevue, Cornell, Rockefeller, etc.
Jean
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really a series of essays, that follow Dr. Thomas' life in medicine and its evolution from hand-holding to scientific care, sometimes unfortunately at the expense of dehumanizing the patient even more.
Gabrielle Sebaratnam
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike Harper
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book for a course in the history of 20th century medicine. It was fascinating insofar as it explained what the practice of medicine was like at the start of the century. It is an easy read, well written and without excessive technical language.
Omar
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A chronicle that starts at the epicenter of medicine but reverberates to inform on all facets of life. Though written in the 80s, Thomas' lessons are as, if not more, vital today for the young, be they medical students or anyone else.
Philipp
Jul 22, 2016 rated it liked it
4 Stars for the first half of the book, which gives a great account of medical practices during the first few decades of the 20th century, a great read for anyone involved in this field. After that I found myself rapidly losing interest in the anecdotes and personal theories of the author.
Grace
Mar 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: medical
An inspiring book for all the medical types, and I LOVED it.
Rae
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Intriguing essays on science and how it relates to everyday life and the medical world. I love the way Thomas writes.
Charles
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic-science
Lewis thomas is certainly one of our best science essayists. I always enjoy his work. These are general essays mostly, about biology.
Vicki
Jul 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know I read this and I remember that I liked it, but I would need to read it again to accurately review it.
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Lewis Thomas (November 25, 1913December 3, 1993) was a physician, poet, etymologist, essayist, administrator, educator, policy advisor, and researcher.

Thomas was born in Flushing, New York and attended Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. He became Dean of Yale Medical School and New York University School of Medicine, and President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute. His formative
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26 likes · 8 comments
“It is not a simple life to be a single cell, although I have no right to say so, having been a single cell so long ago myself that I have no memory at all of that stage in my life.” 4 likes
“Have you noticed how often it happens that a really good idea -- the kind of idea that looks, as it approaches, like the explanation for everything about everything -- tends to hover near at hand when you are thinking hard about something quite different? There you are, halfway into a taxi, thinking about the condition of the cartilage in the right knee joint, and suddenly, with a whirring sound, in flies a new notion looking for a place to light. You'd better be sure you have a few bare spots, denuded of anything like thought, ready for its perching, or it will fly away into the dark.” 3 likes
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