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BELLEVUE: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital

By David M. Oshinsky

If a person is taken to Bellevue, it’s never for good reasons. It is the hospital where sick homeless people, injured construction workers, and wounded cops and robbers come, scooped up from all over Manhattan. … That familiarity in the popular culture, notes the author, comes at a price, for though Bellevue has an ineradicable reputation, it is the definitive public hospital, treating rich and poor, attending to every conceivable malady, its doctors researching epidemics, ushering in public health reforms, and dispensing wisdom. From the ER to the Insane Pavilion, Oshinsky’s account focuses on people. … For instance, it should come as no comfort to anyone that electroshock therapy, in which Bellevue was a pioneer, had its origins in the electrical stun guns used to stun pigs before they were slaughtered; it looks humane, Oshinsky suggests, only against other “therapies” such as lobotomy.

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For the full review, visit kirkus.com.