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Publisher's Summary

Could Lincoln have lived? After John Wilkes Booth fired a low-velocity .44 caliber bullet into the back of the president's skull, Lincoln did not perish immediately. Attending doctors cleaned and probed the wound, and actually improved his breathing for a time. Today medical trauma teams help similar victims survive - including Gabby Giffords, whose injury was strikingly like Lincoln's. In Diagnosing Giants, Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak examines the historical record in detail, reconstructing Lincoln's last hours moment by moment to calculate the odds. That leads him to more questions: What if he had lived? What sort of neurological function would he have had? What kind of a Constitutional crisis would have ensued?

Dr. Mackowiak, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, offers a gripping and authoritative account of 13 patients who took center stage in world history. The result is a new understanding of how the past unfolded, as well as a sweeping survey of the history of medicine. What was the ailment that drove Caligula mad? Why did Stonewall Jackson die after having an arm amputated, when so many other Civil War soldiers survived such operations? As with Lincoln, the author explores the full context of his subjects' lives and the impact of each case on the course of history, from Tutankhamen, Buddha, and John Paul Jones to Darwin, Lenin, and Eleanor Roosevelt. When an author illuminates the past with state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, listeners pay attention.

Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic, about the medical malpractice that killed President James A. Garfield, was a New York Times best seller. And Dr. Mackowiak's previous book, Post-Mortem: Solving History's Greatest Medical Mysteries, won the attention of periodicals as diverse as the Wall Street Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine, which pleaded for a sequel. With Diagnosing Giants, he has written one with impeccable expertise and panache.

©2013 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Another bad narrator taints an interesting book!

Any additional comments?

The content of this book is fascinating to a science person like myself. However, the narrator was very distracting. Does anybody remember the old sit-com "Rhoda"? Well, I now know what became of "This is Carlton, you doorman.". He is narrating audio books! At some points he reads ponderously slowly and frequently mispronounces words. He gets the science terms right, but bungles everyday English words. I realize there are alternate pronunciations to many words, but I looked some of the ones he fluffed up and what he said is just plain wrong. It's a shame - the book is really fascinating, but I now wish I had read the print copy.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting story; tedious reader

Variety of challenging diagnostic cases based on conditions of historical figures. Reader's plodding style and numerous unique pronunciations were very distracting and unpleasant

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kate
  • Hermitage, TN USA
  • 01-06-15

Terrible Narrator

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Bryan Reid?

Anyone else. My dog could've done better.

Could you see Diagnosing Giants being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No.

Any additional comments?

This is an excellent and informative book, but the narrator's voice was so somnelent and adenoidal it was horribly unpleasant. I felt like I was listening to a truculent, bored teenager with a headcold.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

What would have made Diagnosing Giants better?

Need less medical jargan and more intrigue .

Would you ever listen to anything by Philip A. Mackowiak again?

Not if it is a monotonous and boring as this book is .

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He didn't even seem interested in what he is reading . Why should I listen if he isn't even compelled by the story ?

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Diagnosing Giants?

I only listened to two chapters before giving up . I thought we were going to solve some of the mysteries .

Any additional comments?

The synopsis was misleading . I thought we would here new insights into great medical mysteries . All I heard was a dull history lesson .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kostas
  • Wisconsin, USA
  • 07-20-15

Superb book

Fantastic book. Very interesting review of medical history of famous people. I highly recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Diagnosing Giants falls short

If you are a medically educated person this book may be comprehensible. The book starts by explaining the death of several famous people in history. Then returns to examine how that disease would be treated now with our modern technologies and inventions.

With Abraham Lincoln the detail was painfully too intricate but with Eleanor Roosevelt the detail was just enough to understand the potential for misdiagnosis.

While the detail was a bit much, for medical students this detail was refreshing and educational for premed like myself. I would recommend this book to only this section of my friends.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

great subject bordering on encyclopedic but poorly

this reader is so annoying as to ruin the ability to enjoy a book with such scientific detail. he tries very hard to pronounce everything correctly, gets it right 90% of the time, but there is so much strain and artificial phrasing that it feels like someone reading cue cards. great medical mystery worth reading but read the book don't listen to the audio