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Human Anatomy: Depicting the Body from the Renaissance to Today; Human Remains: Dissection and its Histories

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 13 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:153
  1. Sanjay A Pai, consultant pathologist (
  1. Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, India

    Human Anatomy: Depicting the Body from the Renaissance to Today

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    Benjamin A Rifkin, Michael J Ackerman, Judith Folkenberg

    Thames and Hudson £17.95, pp 344 ISBN 0 500 51299 X

    Rating: GraphicGraphicGraphicGraphic

    Human Remains: Dissection and its Histories

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    Helen MacDonald

    Yale University Press £19.99/$35, pp 224 ISBN 0 300 11699 3

    Rating: GraphicGraphicGraphicGraphic

    It is almost easy to forget, in this age of molecular biology, the central roles that anatomy and pathologic anatomy have played in medical science for the past four and a half centuries. Most histories of medicine deal with anatomy in brief and concentrate only on Andreas Vesalius, who, in 1543 published De Humani Corporis Fabrica, in which he dealt a severe blow to Galenic theories about the structure of the human body. Two new books have human anatomy and dissection at their cores, while addressing different facets of the history of anatomy.

    Art meets anatomy in Human Anatomy, while Human Remains deals with the links between anatomy and anthropology. The first sentence of Human Anatomy is “The body was never a free gift”—something that the author of Human Remains seems to question. The …

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