Picks and Pans Review: The Youngest Science

updated 04/04/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/04/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Lewis Thomas

Thomas, the physician author of The Lives of a Cell and The Medusa and the Snail, here reestablishes his reputation as a master of the short essay. He tells, for instance, of growing up in New York in the 1920s as the son of a general practitioner and surgeon who had a tough time collecting bills, then traces his own steps through Harvard Medical School and a career centered on administration and research. He muses on how technology has made medicine far more effective—but at the same time distanced the doctor from the patient. When he compares the human brain to the computer, he grants that some computers are capable of high intelligence but insists the brain retains unique features. These bits of writing are genial, wise, unpretentious, often witty and never strain for effect. (Viking, $14.75)

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