Orwell's Cough: Diagnosing the Medical Maladies and Last Gasps of the Great Writers Paperback – 7 Nov 2013
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"Superb - One's prurient reading pleasure is elevated by Ross's clarity, his wit, his authority." Sebastian Faulks, The Spectator
"This is a book to which I shall return again and again - Witty and deeply humane." Raymond Tallis, Wall Street Journal
"A quietly enthralling book - It's a little like reading a literary version of the TV show House." Daily Mail
"A gripping medical detective book - Entertaining." Telegraph
"Fascinating, surprising and at times hilarious compilation." New Scientist
‘Beguiling [and] enthralling’ Daily Mail
“Orwell's Cough is riveting medical detective work. John Ross offers a truly unique perspective on the literary giants, and he will make you profoundly thankful for modern medicine!”(Alex Boese - bestselling author of Elephants on Acid and Electric Sheep) See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
The author is the Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, so he certainly knows his science; what's wonderful about this book is that he knows his novels too. The prose reads well, and each chapter has the drama and narrative arc of fiction. The details of the writers' lives are fascinating, and it's enjoyable to trace how their physical ailments may have affected their work. Orwell's Cough manages the perfect balance: enough medicalese to interest the biologically-minded, and enough details about writers' lives for the literary-minded. As soon as I finished the book, I turned right back to the start and read it again.
Focusing on the medical conditions of some of the great literature writers the author guides you through their condition its historical relevance and his view on this issue. Both my wife and myself read this book and agreed that it is very repetitive. The Author follows a similar patter throughout his chapters and this leave the reader a firm knowledge of what will be coming next. I liken this to being on a journey similar to your trip to work, you know it is different but at the same time very familiar. I think the root of this problem is the author's background. Originally written for a medical group of people it is clear that the author is a very analytical and methodical person. Qualities that are useful as a doctor, less useful as an author.
This negative element does not distract from the content being very interesting and if you pick this book up you will learn something new (possibly). However you will not be entertained in any sense and you may be tempted to put this book down over turning the page to find out 'what happens next'.
But the matter is almost too compelling to be read one chapter at a time. Like a voyeuristic teenager entering a hospital ward and chancing upon the bedside notes of a celebrity patient, I read with owl-like alertness the ignominy of disease and doctoring these gifted people found themselves affected by, especially the cover-hogging Orwell and the Bard.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is my favorite book for the decade. Multi-layered details about ten of our literary greats inspires an appreciation of their history, health and struggles. Read morePublished on 2 Sept. 2013 by Celia Berrell
Fascinating. Only wish there were more books which investigate medical histories of people from the past. I'd love to know what really ailed Florence Nightingale for example.Published on 22 Mar. 2013 by fast reader
I found the historical aspects and the social settings very interesting indeed, and the book as a whole certainly inspired me to learn morePublished on 28 Dec. 2012 by JES