corner corner The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy


The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy
by bill hayes | Biographies & Memoirs
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 10/8/2009
Average 8 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by Esme-Weatherwax): to be read

5 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, October 08, 2009

8 out of 10

I'd thoroughly enjoyed this book when I read it in hardcover, and when I saw that it was coming out in trade paperback - with one of Henry Carter's detailed illustrations of a skull on the cover - I had to order another copy.

I'm a HUGE fan of author Bill Hayes; his books Five Quarts and Sleep Demons are favorites of mine, and I was delighted to discover this one.

As with his previous books, this one's a mix of historical and biographical information on the subject, and the author's own memoirs. In this book he arranges to audit a series of anatomy courses so he can experience it directly, comparing his experiences with those of Gray and his students. [At one point he describes his own early fascination with the human anatomy in the form of a series of transparent plates in an encyclopedia; I think he had a different set than I did, but I recall being riveted by a similar set of plates in our Encyclopedia Britannica when I was a kid! His description of the sound the plastic pages made as they were peeled apart brought back the memories...] I enjoyed his accounts of his anatomy classes, which range from the practical to the philosophical, with occasional trips into humor: there's a functional anatomy presentation as a kind of pop-quiz, where the students have to take a common kind of movement and describe all the anatomical aspects involved in performing it. Hayes' team is assigned the push-up, and while Hayes can't contribute directly as he isn't taking the course for credit, he offers to demonstrate push-ups for the others to help them spot the muscle groups. But he adds, "I must concede that my favorite in-class presentation... is 'the queen's wave,' as analyzed by Adrienne and company. Watching these four energetic young women deconstruct this signature of royal reserve is a delight. Somehow, the white lab coats and ponytails add to the charm."

Oddly enough, since he set out to write about Henry Gray, most of the book is not about him at all - for the reason that very little of his personal writings have survived. But, early on in his research, Hayes stumbled upon a wealth of material: the personal diaries and letters of Henry Vandyke Carter, who was a friend and colleague of Gray - and whose illustrations form perhaps the most immediately recognizable portion of Gray's Anatomy. Most of Hayes' book is, in fact, a biography of Carter, relying on his comments about Gray to fill in the gaps about the latter. (Gray seems to have been a very bright and dedicated doctor; his untimely death at 34, of smallpox contracted from a nephew he was tending, cut short a glowing career. By the end of the book, Hayes has come across a very few items with direct connections to Gray, and is fascinated to read some of the post-mortem reports in Gray's own hand. Hayes also figures out a possible reason for the absence of personal documents of Gray's, but I'll leave that for the reader to discover.)

Carter, torn between being an artist and a physician, struck a happy medium with his exquisitely detailed anatomical drawings. Gray, whom Carter respected very much, recognized his abilities early on, and asked his help for smaller projects before enlisting him for his Anatomy. [Among the odd/interesting/sad information: while Gray did credit Carter in the first edition of the book, later editions have not always included him, and more recent editions have added many illustrations by other people mixed in with the originals - and sometimes have tweaked those originals, too. Hayes suggests that Carter's style is so distinctive that it's fairly easy to spot his work among the others, but it seems a shame that he hasn't received as much credit as he should.]

Other trivia: Carter, while traveling in Paris, ran into a young adventurer who impressed him very much, one Lt. Bellot, an Arctic explorer. I'd read of him in some of my polar-exploration books, so I wasn't surprised at his tragic fate, but it was quite a blow to poor Carter. [Oh, and in conjunction with the Arctic-explorer business, I found an error in a footnote: it says that the bodies of Franklin and his crew were found, but in fact Franklin's body wasn't found - the reported exhumations were done to only three crew members, who died early in the expedition. I should drop Hayes a line and let him know about that.]

There was one part of the book that did shock me, and sadden me as well. [For those who would prefer to read the book without knowing about this event, I've put the following behind a spoiler: to read, select the blank space. In the epilogue, Hayes describes the sudden death by heart failure of his lover Steve, just before Hayes tackled the final draft of this book. I'd come to know Steve from the previous books, in which he played a larger part, but he was present in this one as well, helping Hayes with some of his research or just being there to bounce questions off of. Hayes posted an article called The Upside of Grief on his web site, which gives more information about Steve's death and how Hayes has fared since then. End of spoiler.]

I still marvel at how Hayes blends his facts/thoughts/memoirs into an informative, entertaining, and moving book. And I'll try to watch more closely for his next one, so I don't miss it! 

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, October 08, 2009

This book has not been rated.

I thought I'd offer this book for a book ray, as it's one that I've enjoyed and it doesn't seem to be that well-known; see the forum post here.

The book is a trade paperback weighing about 11 ounces. I'll accommodate domestic-only (and other) mailing preferences as best I can; if I get enough participants who are willing to handle the necessary postage/customs-forms requirements, I'll make it an international ray. Please post a reply in the forum thread or PM me if you'd like to participate, and include any mailing restrictions you may have.

Bookray instructions:

When you receive the book, please journal it, and PM the next person in line for their address so you'll have it ready when you've finished the book.

Note: even if you've sent books to that person before, please PM them before mailing this one, to confirm that the address is correct and that they're able to take on a book ray at this time.
Try and read the book promptly - ideally, within a month of receiving it. If you expect to take longer, you can request to be put at the end of the list. If you find you're swamped with other books when the person before you contacts you about the bookring, you can ask to be skipped, and then let me know whether you'd like to be moved down the list or dropped entirely. If you receive the book and find it's taking longer than you'd planned to get through it, I'd appreciate an update in its journal entries or on your profile, just to let me and the other participants know you haven't forgotten it.

When you're ready to pass the book along, please add your comments about the book and indicate where you're sending it, either through a journal entry or through the controlled-release-note option. [If you make controlled release notes with your country/state/city as the location, the book will have a lovely map of its travels.]

If you find that you're having problems contacting the next person in line, or don't think you can manage to mail the book as originally agreed, please let me know; I'll be glad to try to work something out!

Participants in mailing order:
NMReader [NM - USA]
perryfran [MD - USA] [asked to be skipped]
varykino [Canada]
mafarrimond [UK]
dutch-book [Netherlands] (asked to be skipped)
Mizuchy [Romania] [seems to be backed up with bookrings; skipping for now]
shovelmonkey1 [UK] (asked to be skipped) 

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, October 23, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Released 8 yrs ago (10/23/2009 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA



I'm sending this to BCer NMReader in New Mexico to kick off the ray. Hope you enjoy it! 

Journal Entry 4 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Friday, November 06, 2009

This book has not been rated.

This should be a wonderful read. Can't wait to start once I complete rings and rays that I recieved earlier

Journal Entry 5 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This book has not been rated.

I am afraid in the midst of my move this book was packed with other books. I will read as soon as I find it. I am very sorry 

Journal Entry 6 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Monday, March 15, 2010

This book has not been rated.

I am happy to say that I found this book over the weekend. I will need to re-read what I had previously read but will try to read and get it moving as soon as I can. 

Journal Entry 7 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Sunday, March 21, 2010

8 out of 10

I enjoyed this book although at times it seemed to be very slow moving.

I got to about the last hundred pages and then I was done.

It was interesting to learn about Henry Carter and Henry Gray. I also have a new appreciation for a cousre I never had.

Thanks for the ring ray. I have the address of the next person and hope to mail the book tomorrow. 

Journal Entry 8 by NMReader at Herndon, Virginia USA on Monday, March 22, 2010

This book has not been rated.

Released 8 yrs ago (3/22/2010 UTC) at Herndon, Virginia USA



I hope to drop this off at the PO this evening after work.

US Customs#: LC886296580US 

Journal Entry 9 by varykino from Greenfield Park, Québec Canada on Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This book has not been rated.

The book arrived while I was on vacation. It was left at the post office. My son retrieved the book for me. I am looking forward to reading the book. I'll check in again when I return to work and start reading the book.

May 7, 2010.
I have finished the book this morning on the bus. A few pages in I thought what have I gotten myself into. But I was hooked after the first chapter. I almost missed my bus stop..
I have worked in a hospital for more than 25 years. Gray 's Anatomy is almost as common as the Bible here. In the good old days book sellers would set up stalls in Travencore House and "Gray's" held the place of honour. I thought I knew a great deal about Dr Henry Gray. But I never realized the illustrations were done by Henry V Carter.
Hayes explores the significance of Gray’s Anatomy and explains why it came to symbolize a turning point in medical history. Uncovering a treasure trove of forgotten letters and diaries, he illuminates the astonishing relationship between the fiercely gifted young anatomist Henry Gray and his younger collaborator H.V. Carter, whose exquisite anatomical illustrations are masterpieces of art and close observation. Tracing the triumphs and tragedies of these two extraordinary men, Hayes brings the mid-1800s to life.
The 40th edition of Gray's Anatomy was published in September 2008 by Elsevier under the Churchill Livingstone imprint in both print and on-line versions. The 39th edition of Gray's Anatomy was published in November 2004 under the Churchill Livingstone (UK) and C.V. Mosby (U.S.) imprints, and was also made available in CD-ROM format.
The cover of the book got the attention of a lot of people. The most common comment from friends and patients was " good Lord what are you reading now".

The book is off to it the next reader.
mailed to the next reader last night May 19 2010.
Sorry for the delay but it has been hectic at work and my energy level is at an all time low.I wish I had the vigor and determination of Gray and Carter. 

Journal Entry 10 by mafarrimond at Hawarden, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, June 14, 2010

This book has not been rated.

The book has arrived safely along with a few others. I will read as soon as able and pass on. Thanks for sharing. 

Journal Entry 11 by mafarrimond at Hawarden, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, July 11, 2010

9 out of 10

This is the first book I have read by Hayes. It was not quite what I expected - probably better! I liked the tales of his research into Carter and Gray - a tribute indeed to the two remarkable Anatomists.

I also loved his ancedotes about his experiences of his anatomt lesson! 

Journal Entry 12 by mafarrimond at Limerick, Co. Limerick Ireland on Saturday, July 17, 2010

This book has not been rated.

Released 7 yrs ago (7/17/2010 UTC) at Limerick, Co. Limerick Ireland


Esme-Weatherwaxosting on to Esme-Weatherwax. Enjoy! 

Journal Entry 13 by Esme-Weatherwax at Limerick, Co. Limerick Ireland on Thursday, July 29, 2010

This book has not been rated.

Thanks to mafarrimond for sending me this book and gorydetails for 1st offering it up. I have Gray's Anatomy and I look forward to reading this one. This will be a book that both me and my husband will read.  

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