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Body of Knowledge


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About the Author

Steve Giegerich is a journalist and a member of the adjunct faculty at the Columbia University School of Journalism. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998, he resides in Locust, New Jersey.


Completing the freshman course, Medical Gross and Developmental Anatomy (GA), is one of the first bridges one crosses to become a physician. Journalist Giegerich succeeds admirably in taking readers through the five units of GA (head and neck, thorax, abdomen, and upper and lower extremities) at Newark's University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey so that the curious emerge with their imaginations satiated, their hands clean and odor free, but, alas, sans medical degree. Giegerich introduces the body donor, the embalmer, the school secretary who arranges for body donations, the students, and the anatomy faculty, letting us share in the experience all the way up to the memorial service that terminates the course before the dissected cadavers are sent to the crematory. Depending on his or her disposition, the reader is likely to be mesmerized, appalled, or emotionally depleted by these comprehensive and engrossing insights into the first-year med student's exposure to the complexity of the human body with its myriad Latinized structures, the unremitting pressures of memorization and ever-present exams, and a sprinkling of "cadaver juice" and practical jokes added to ease the tension. Human dissection is a fascinating and complex topic, and Meryl Levin's Anatomy of Anatomy (Third Rail, 2000) provides a pictorial complement to Giegerich's compelling text. For popular medical collections. James Swanton, Harlem Hosp. Lib., New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

American Way magazine Appalling, funny, sobering and deeply moving, the story is a vivid reminder that we all are destined to a common fate, but our good works need not end in death. Publishers Weekly Sensitive, provocative...essential reading for anyone considering a career in medicine. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) Compelling...packed with details about the process of medical education as well as the ordeals physicians undergo in training. David A. Kornhauser, D.O. family practice physician, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Body of Knowledge reminds us that with all of the technological advances medicine has made, medicine's foundation is based on the philosophical and a deep understanding of the human body.

Father Edmond Music is no model priest. For one thing, he is a stone cold atheist. For another, he has been a sexual athlete in his time, and still sleeps with his housekeeper, Maude Moriarty. Not only has he enjoyed a robust sex life, he's profited from it: his lover nearly 50 years before, in the 1950s, English Lady Violet Devlin ("Kiki"), gave the church her inherited family seat, Beale Hall, to be turned into a scholarly Catholic retreat with the proviso that Music be its director general. These blips on Music's moral radar don't bother him, really but he is irked by what he sees as the bloody strain of anti-Semitism in the church and his complicity in it. Music was, after all, born a Jew. In occupied France, his parents thought it the better part of valor to have him convert before they disappeared his mother to a concentration camp, his father into hiding in the French countryside and, eventually, to Israel. Music's immediate worry, and the gambit for the novel's intrigues, is the investigation mounted by his old enemy, Father Twombly, into the mysterious transfer of a reputed Shakespeare manuscript from the Beale Hall library to a private bookseller in Paris. While Music races around trying to prevent the exposure of that transaction, Maude, inching toward 70, is becoming poisonously disillusioned with her lover. Isler (The Prince of West End Avenue, winner of the National Jewish Book Award) mixes the Jewish comic tradition and the high church comedy of Waugh and Murdoch to produce this scathing yet touching farewell to faith, hope and charity in the mad, bad 20th century. (June) Forecast: This book defies marketing Catholic readers will quickly be appalled by the unapologetic blasphemy, and Jewish readers will tend to say, what is this, a book about a priest? Yet Isler's amiable refusal to please sets him squarely in the tradition of Philip Roth; his tone is reminiscent of Malamud. With luck and a few good reviews, his book will sell despite itself. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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