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Views & Reviews Medical Classic

Sakhalin Island

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 28 February 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:511
  1. Christopher Timmis, general practitioner, Pinner, Middlesex
  1. christimmis{at}

This book is an account of the remarkable study that Chekhov made of the conditions in the Russian penal colony on the barren Sakhalin Island off the east coast of Siberia. In 1890 the 30 year old Chekhov was an emerging figure in Moscow literary circles who had just won the prestigious Pushkin prize. He was also a qualified doctor and was building up a medical practice in the city. He had also been beset by tragedy: his elder brother, his sister in law, and a close friend had all recently died of tuberculosis. Chekhov, too, had already recognised the haemoptysis caused …

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