This collection of physician experiences, colored by the necessity of the writer to protect  his patients, gives a glimpse into a medical practice of a time past-remembered by some of us, not  known by our younger colleagues.  Dr. Palmer, aka Harry Byrd, takes the reader into a rural setting and  the practice of surgery bounded by the time and the place.  Dr. Byrd, trained in Boston as a surgeon,  chooses to practice in rural Maine and to work with the culture and needs of this environment.  He  treats the reader to a viewpoint of another era of medicine and, at some level, asks the readers to  consider the lost or fading qualities of the pre-tech doctor/patient relationship.


The collection of vignettes appears to spread across a few decades of practice  experience. As an example, the chapter entitled "Cracked Marbles" from which the title of the book is drawn, speaks to the little details of a patient's surroundings that define the humanity that underscores  the power of the collection. The reader meets Dr. Byrd's patients, their illnesses, and their families.  There is a refreshing display of, careful study of, and sensitivity to, the feelings of those involved in the  stories.  If open to the study of another era and its possibilities for enhanced doctor-patient  relationships, the student of any health care profession can learn from this work.  In addition to its  value for students, housestaff, and practicing professionals, there is a down-to-earth, refreshing, and  worthwhile quality that is accessible to the lay reader.  This book could become a valuable addition to  medical humanities courses of the 21st century.


Tiffin Press of Maine

Place Published

Brooksville, Maine



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