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Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century | [Kevin Fong]

Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century

Little more than 100 years ago, maps of the world still boasted white space: places where no human had ever trod. Within a few short decades the most hostile of the world's environments had all been conquered. Likewise, in the 20th century, medicine transformed human life. Doctors took what was routinely fatal and made it survivable. As modernity brought us ever more into different kinds of extremes, doctors pushed the bounds of medical advances and human endurance. Extreme exploration challenged the body in ways that only the vanguard of science could answer.
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Publisher's Summary

Little more than 100 years ago, maps of the world still boasted white space: places where no human had ever trod. Within a few short decades the most hostile of the world's environments had all been conquered. Likewise, in the 20th century, medicine transformed human life. Doctors took what was routinely fatal and made it survivable. As modernity brought us ever more into different kinds of extremes, doctors pushed the bounds of medical advances and human endurance. Extreme exploration challenged the body in ways that only the vanguard of science could answer.

Doctors, scientists, and explorers all share a defining trait: They push on in the face of grim odds. Because of their extreme exploration we not only understand our physiology better; we have also made enormous strides in the science of healing.

Drawing on his own experience as an anesthesiologist, intensive care expert, and NASA adviser, Dr. Kevin Fong examines how cutting-edge medicine pushes the envelope of human survival by studying the human body's response when tested by physical extremes. Extreme Medicine explores different limits of endurance and the lens each offers on one of the systems of the body.

The challenges of Arctic exploration created opportunities for breakthroughs in open-heart surgery; battlefield doctors pioneered techniques for skin grafts, heart surgery, and trauma care; underwater and outer space exploration have revolutionized our understanding of breathing, gravity, and much more. Avant-garde medicine is fundamentally changing our ideas about the nature of life and death.

Through astonishing accounts of extraordinary events and pioneering medicine, Fong illustrates the sheer audacity of medical practice at extreme limits, where human life is balanced on a knife's edge.

Extreme Medicine is a gripping debut about the science of healing, but also about exploration in its broadest sense - and about how, by probing the very limits of our biology, we may ultimately return with a better appreciation of how our bodies work, of what life is, and what it means to be human.

©2014 Kevin Fong, M.D. (P)2014 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A medical thriller of the first order." (Kirkus Starred Review)

What Members Say

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  •  
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-25-14
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-25-14 Member Since 2007

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "EXTREME MEDICINE"

    Kevin Fong, a physician, believes exploration and extreme medicine are linked. Fong’s book, "Extreme Medicine", links exploration and medical advance with real-life stories of adventure, discovery; failure and success. He argues that exploration of the unknown transforms medicine.

    Fong begins with a story of frostbite in the early 20th century. The two edges of subzero weather are revealed; one edge destroys while the other preserves life. Fong recounts the life of a mariner that dies from frostbite that slowly saps life from his limbs, his brain, and finally his heart. Then Fong tells of a skier’s accident in freezing weather that leaves her clinically dead for three hours. The skier lives even though 20 minutes without an operating autonomic system means death.

    Ethics come into issue in a doctor’s sale of extreme medicine to desperate patients. Life is always, to quote a previous book review, a matter of “me before you”. Doctors are human. Money, power, and prestige affect their decisions just as they affect all human decisions. The difference is that the patient has more to lose than the doctor.

    This is not to deny the theme of Fong’s book. Living life is, by nature, an exploration. Human beings who choose to explore extremes do advance knowledge. Knowledge drawn from exploration does transform medicine. Knowledge transforms everything in life. Life on earth is finite. With exploration, life is potentially infinite.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 09-24-14
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 09-24-14 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

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    "Face transplants and interstellar travel?"

    This audiobook was everything the description promised and more. It is about the boundaries we humans are always pushing, and the medicine and treatments that have necessarily arisen as a result.

    It doesn't sound very interesting to you? It certainly is! It covers, among others topics, what happens to us when we push the boundaries of travel to the far reaches of the Arctic, attempt deep sea diving, and even how our bodies might respond physically to interstellar travel. I especially enjoyed where the author described his days working for NASA.

    Equally fascinating were the discussions of the advent of heart surgery, effective burn treatment, and the first face transplant in the U.S. I could go on but if this seems interesting, get this book! It is a fast and very easy listen with a good narrator.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louisiana 06-23-14
    Louisiana 06-23-14
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    "I've walked extra miles listening!"
    What made the experience of listening to Extreme Medicine the most enjoyable?

    I listen on my iPod while walking for exercise, & this book had me walking 4 extra miles yesterday because I didn't want to stop the story. The narrator's voice took getting used to for me; nothing wrong with it, just a little dramatic in the reading, but as the book went on, I realized how perfect his voice is for the narrative. This is the story of how modern medicine has pushed the limits of what the human body can survive. Lots of medical detail & also lots of the story of how advances came about, so while there are technical details, it's not hard to follow. I'm riveted! Thank you, Kevin Fong!


    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paige Woodruff CT 11-07-14
    Paige Woodruff CT 11-07-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Not your typical medical book"

    This isn't your typical medical book. Dr.Fong started his educational pursuits in astrophysics then decided to become a doctor. He has a fascination with space travel and an understanding of physics and hemodynamics that make for very interesting storytelling. You might think this would make it all boring and too difficult for the average reader to understand--don't. He does a great job in explaining functions of the human body.

    Fong is able to bring "extreme" into each chapter in some fascinating and enjoyable manner. Each chapter is devoted to an organ of the body. He takes us through history helping us to understand the evolution of medicine. You dive the deeps, ski the alps and fly into space in this book.Fascinating stuff really.

    If you can listen to it on Audible the narrator is English and the pronunciation of some of the terms is entertaining. The book is well written, well researched and well narrated. Definitely recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Svetlana PITTSBURGH, PA, United States 10-15-14
    Svetlana PITTSBURGH, PA, United States 10-15-14 Member Since 2014
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    "You feel smarter just listening!"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is about how exploration science has shaped medicine. How we prep the body to handle extreme situations so that we can push the boundaries of where we can survive, like exploring Antartica or Space. Based on exploratory science, that revolution has also impacted medicine when treating day-to-day problems. It's very interesting and well written, as well as performed! The author leaves the reader with an overall understanding of how medicine has transformed from what it was to what it is now today and why. The kind of general information that can sound impressive at a small get-together, so long as no one asks too many insightful questions!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    James Brown NYC, USA 10-07-14
    James Brown NYC, USA 10-07-14 Member Since 2011

    JB

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    "Awakening of intelligence - Medically speaking."

    This book awoke in me, "A HUNGER" to learn more about the medical field (and I don't have any interest of becoming a doctor, or some type of physician). It opened my eyes to quite a few medical questions that I had, and also filled in quite a few gaps that were missing in my little knowledge, that I had about medical information that I had learned over the years. "Overall," if you want a book that will "open your mind" to some of the great mysteries of the medical field - "THIS IS IT."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 09-02-14
    Tim United States 09-02-14 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

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    "Coming from a Family of Healers"

    My two younger siblings are both in the medical field. One is a physician and the other one is an anesthetists. We also have other family members are in the same line of work. When all of them get together, they like to talk shop until someone change the subject.

    "Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century" from Dr. Kevin Fong is interesting, but also a bit redundant because I pretty much heard it all from my family. The history of medicine and how the human body is so resilient is awesome to listen to, but "Exploration" of medicine is a bit hog wash. I don't quite understand what Dr. Fong is trying to prove.

    The cross reference of space exploration and medicine is a bit misleading. I don't see the link between the two when medicine is always evolving. We no longer use our bare hands to operate and microscopic surgery is becoming the norm. I guess what Dr. Fong is trying to say that without space exploration, the progress of medicine will be slower.

    1 of 7 people found this review helpful
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