Iconoclast: Abraham Flexner and a Life in Learning

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 23 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1248
  1. Ed Peile, associate director of clinical studies
  1. University of Oxford

    Thomas Neville Bonner

    Johns Hopkins University Press, $36, pp 400

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    There have been few famous medical educators since Hippocrates, but Abraham Flexner is probably the best known of the last century. “It was he who defined what a medical school should and should not be,” claims Thomas Bonner in this, the first full biography of a remarkable man.

    Flexner was modest. For all that he rubbed shoulders with the Carnegies and the Rockefellers, brought Albert Einstein to America, and worked with the intellectual giants of education and medicine, Flexner was not caught up in the world of heroes-on-pedestals. He was, as Thomas Bonner recognises, a true iconoclast in believing that the reputations of men, institutions, and ideologies were there to …

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