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The Giant, O'Brien

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 28 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1532
  1. Bertram Cohen, chairman, Board of Trustees of the Hunterian Collection
  1. Royal College of Surgeons of England, London

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    Hilary Mantel

    Fourth Estate, £14.99, pp 210

    ISBN 1857028848

    Rating: Embedded Image

    This book is beautifully produced with clear, well spaced print, but what at first sight seems an artistic and original cover is almost identical to that of The Irish Giant by Frankcom and Musgrave, published in 1976. The attempt to weave a historical novel around the life of John Hunter is, of course, not original, but Garet Rogers' Brother Surgeons, written in 1957, is in every way a more credible, more colourful, and much more readable account of life in those tumultuous times.

    In this book, with O'Brien as its central character, quasi-Irish storytelling occupies much of the chronicle, but Mantel fails dismally to match up to those traditional skills. …

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