Naval Surgeon
Life and Death at Sea in the Age of Sail

J. Worth Estes

1998, xii+266pp. Illus., ISBN 0-88135-194-6 L/C 97-31845, $39.95

Naval Surgeon


“…Naval Surgeon is a well-designed, careful compilation of seventeen years of research and analysis and a number of serendipitous events. Trough lucky contacts, Estes gained access to St. Medard’s personal correspondence, his genealogy, and the biographies of other officers who served on the New York in the years 1802-1803. It would have been easy to welter in this vast fund of detail, statistics, and esoteric vocabulary, but, instead, the author, a master of elegant phrasing, produced a book that is extremely readable out of a desire to share his considerable knowledge.” –William and Mary Quarterly

“…Well written and annotated, the book is a pleasure to read and much to be admired for its scholarship. The discovery of St.Medard’s correspondence, clinical notes, and patient register throws open a window into the past and illuminates our medical heritage. Taking a scientific approach, Dr. Estes skillfully applies modern historical techniques to transform these fragments of information into objective data. As a result, Naval Surgeon elucidates an era of our history hitherto covered mostly anecdotally.” –JAMA

“Visitors to the cockpit or sick bay of the U.S.S. Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) in Boston have often wondered what went on in those dim, below-deck spaces. Now their curiosity can be satisfied by J. Worth Estes’s cleverly documented book about life and death at sea at the beginning of the 19th century. Fans of maritime novelist Patrick O’Brian can read about how it really was. It was grim and stark, even when the ship was not in combat…If one can argue that the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts, this proves the point and will be applauded by its readers.” -NEJM

Also of Interest

Seebert J. Goldowsky, 
Yankee Surgeon

The Life and Times of Usher Parsons, 1788-1868
1988, ISBN 0-88135-088-5, $24.50

Herbert Dan Adams, 
The Knife that Saves

Memoirs of a Lahey Clinic Surgeon
1991, ISBN 0-88135-072-9, $24.95

Joseph E. Murray, M.D.
Surgery of the Soul
Reflections on a Curious Career
2004, ISBN 0-88135-256-X, $19.95

William V. McDermott, 
Surgery at New England Deaconess Hospital

Its Roots in the Harvard Surgical Service at the Boston City Hospital
1995, ISBN 0-88135-173-3, $19.95

other books by J. Worth Estes

  • Dictionary of Protopharmacology
    Therapeutic Practices, 1700-1850
  • The Medical Skills of Ancient Egypt
  • The Changing Humors of Portsmouth
    The Medical Biography of an American Town, 1623-1983
  • Hall Jackson and the Purple Foxglove
    Medical Practice & Research in Revolutionary America, 1760-1820