The most successful medical textbook of modern times was William Osler’s The Principles and Practice of Medicine, the premier authority in general medicine for English-speaking doctors for almost six decades after its first publication in 1892. It went through eight editions during Osler’s lifetime and many more afterwards, continuing on under different editors and authors, like white shoe law firms that retain the founder’s name through succeeding generations. Osler brought to it not only his long experience at the bedside and the autopsy room, but also a wide appreciation of the contemporary literature. It had an admirably clear writing style, clear-headed enough to recognize the paucity of effective medical treatments of the time. This so impressed an advisor to John D. Rockefeller that it inspired the creation of the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research.
REFERENCE: A History of William Osler’s The Principles and Practice of Medicine by RL Golden. 2004. Osler Library. Montreal.
Submitted by Ron Fishman of the Cogan Ophthalmic History Society.