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Publisher's Summary

Elizabeth Blackwell believed from an early age that she was destined for a mission beyond the scope of "ordinary" womanhood. Though the world at first recoiled at the notion of a woman studying medicine, her intelligence and intensity ultimately won her the acceptance of the male medical establishment. In 1849, she became the first woman in America to receive an MD. She was soon joined in her iconic achievement by her younger sister, Emily, who was actually the more brilliant physician.

Exploring the sisters' allies, enemies, and enduring partnership, Janice P. Nimura presents a story of trial and triumph. Together, the Blackwells founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital staffed entirely by women. Both sisters were tenacious and visionary, but their convictions did not always align with the emergence of women's rights - or with each other. From Bristol, Paris, and Edinburgh to the rising cities of antebellum America, this richly researched new biography celebrates two complicated pioneers who exploded the limits of possibility for women in medicine. As Elizabeth herself predicted, "a hundred years hence, women will not be what they are now."

©2021 Janice P. Nimura (P)2021 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Doctors Blackwell

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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A Case for Women in Medicine: The Blackwell Sister

This is a well-written and thoroughly researched book, which considers the background of the Blackwell family, and their move to the new world from England in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Elizabeth was the third of nine children, and five years Emily's senior.
The Blackwell children did not attend school and were tutored at home as was the habit of wealthy families at that time. Of the girls, Elizabeth and Emily were the most intellectually gifted and ambitious.
Elizabeth apparently chose medicine as a field because it seemed the most challenging area of study, and she went at it with a dogged determination in the face of rejection from the many institutions to which she applied. Finally, she was accepted at a small college in Geneva New York. The same school, although Elizabeth was graduated with honors, refused to accept Emily a few years later.
Elizabeth was impatient to have her sister Emily join her in this medical endeavor, both because she was lonely, and because she believed Emily was her intellectual equal.
While today we can celebrate their intelligence and determination, this biography makes it clear that the sisters did not become physicians to alleviate the suffering of women in particular or humanity in general, but to prove something about themselves to the world at large. In fact, Elizabeth in particular did not even like women and felt that women as a group were not intelligent enough to have the vote. Elizabeth was quite opinionated, and believed that professional or academic women should, in fact, be celibate.
Both sisters shunned the overtures of liberal suffragettes, and did not attend any of their ground-breaking meetings.

This book was not helped by it's narrator, who often allowed sarcasm to seep through the writer's words. Also, Elizabeth spent time in Paris, and the narrator's French was painful to hear. By the end of this book, I regretted not having read it for myself.

15 people found this helpful

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Performance by Narrator is Disappointing

I have been an Audible subscriber for many years as I have more time to listen to books than to read them, due to long hours spent in the car necessitated by my work.

Generally, I have found that narrators who are selected for audio books are skilled performers who enhance the story being told. The narrator of this book brings no life to the story and the book just seems to drag on.

This title was a selection of my local book club which is why I chose to purchase it. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish the book as I was too distracted by the poor choice of narrator.

10 people found this helpful

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Very interesting and unexpected story, suffers from dry narration

This book details the lives of Emily and Elizabeth Blackwell, pioneering women of medicine, warts and all. A wonderful and thought provoking bit of history, filled with a treasure trove of primary resources which bring the unusual characters to life.

Unfortunately, the performance of the narrator takes away somewhat from the enjoyment of the book. The dry, sometimes sarcastic tone with which the story is read gives it a flavor of something I can’t quite put my finger on, but wasn’t to the benefit of the listening experience. The physical book also contains interesting images, so I therefore suggest reading this book in print rather than listening to it.

3 people found this helpful

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Struggled to finish

Struggled mightily. What should have been a fascinating tale was bogged down in way too much extraneous detail. I'm sorry but the narrator s voice did not capture me at all.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

Who knew? This is a very interesting account of sisters determined to be doctors and doing all kinds of firsts to get there. This should be required reading in high school!

2 people found this helpful

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inspiring

simply put THANK GOD FOR THE STRONG AND INDEPENDENT PIONEER WOMEN!! I would not want to see what life would look like now if we didn't have those awesome forward thinking women pave the way for us.

1 person found this helpful

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Full

This book was so dry right from the beginning and the reader sounds like a computer. I found my mind wandering right away and couldn’t continue on.

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started out good

I enjoyed the beginning but then I just felt like it drowned on and on about the same thing

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interesting

An interesting history and biography of the first women to be awarded degrees as medical doctors. The narrator was not particularly engaging and I had to speed the narration to get through. Still, worth reading/listening.

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well done

My only complaint about this otherwise excellent book was that the various Latin and other foreign language phrases were not translated into English.

When reading a text, it's not a big deal to lookup a phrase online, but it's a lot harder to do with audio, and I wish the audio version had supplied an English translation.

Otherwise, I'm not sure what people had against the narrator. I thought she did a fine job.