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American College of Physicians Publishes 'The Last Half Hour of the Day: An Anthology of Stories and Essays That Have Inspired Physicians'

First anthology of great literature suggested by physicians

PHILADELPHIA, October 8, 2008 "The Last Half Hour of the Day: An Anthology of Stories and Essays That Have Inspired Physicians" -- just released by ACP Press, the book publishing program of the American College of Physicians -- is a collective prescription from physicians around the world for their medical colleagues who seek a deeper meaning in what they do.

"There are many literary anthologies in print, but this is the first and only anthology composed of great literature suggested by physicians, combining excerpts from prose that has held meaning for them, that they turn to for inspiration and introspection in the course of a busy professional life," said co-editor Michael A. LaCombe, MD, FACC, MACP.

"The Last Half Hour of the Day" shares writings that express medical ideals and realities, the devastation of death and illness, the miracle of healing, and the netherworld of remission. Reflections of the physician's role in society and as an observer of the human body and spirit are seen throughout the book.

(Expanded news release, with excerpts, available)

Dr. LaCombe and Christine Laine, MD, MPH, FACP, compiled international contributions from physicians, and provided some of their own favorites, for "The Last Half Hour of the Day: An Anthology of Stories and Essays That Have Inspired Physicians."

The book's title pays homage to the great physician Sir William Osler (1849-1919). Dr. Osler read for a half hour at the end of the day, and he encouraged physicians and medical students to do the same. Drs. LaCombe and Laine dedicate the anthology to all physicians who aspire to this routine, encouraging readers to "Start with 'that last half hour' of Osler, and progress to a lifetime of reading."

Most of the 37 stories and essays have medicine as a theme or in the background, but the book is designed to be accessible to medical and nonmedical audiences. It features both award-winning and lesser-known writers, in literary styles that range from an ancient writing from Plato, to a modern short story by Alice Walker, a learned essay from Sir Thomas More, to science fiction story by Ursula Le Guin.

Physician voices include those of Anton Chekov, Susan O. Mates, Sir William Osler, Oliver Sacks, Richard Selzer, Lewis Thomas, Abraham Verghese, and Abigail Zuger.

"The Last Half Hour of the Day" also includes selections by Raymond Carver, Marie Curie, Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Thomas Jefferson, Doris Lessing, Sinclair Lewis, Pablo Neruda, Frank O'Connor, Edgar Allen Poe, and Mark Twain.

"The Last Half Hour of the Day" is the companion volume to "In Whatever Houses We May Visit: A Poetry Anthology for Physicians," edited by Dr. LaCombe, and Thomas Hartman of ACP Press. A similar international call for contributions from physicians was the genesis for "In Whatever Houses We May Visit."

To order "The Last Half Hour of the Day: An Anthology of Stories and Essays That Have Inspired Physicians," visit ACP Press at www.acponline.org/acppress. The list price is $34.95; ACP members pay $24.95. The hardcover book has 350 pages. The product number is 330371800; the ISBN-13 number is 978-1-934465-09-7.

Dr. LaCombe is a writer who has practiced internal medicine and cardiology for over 30 years in rural Maine. He is editor of the ACP Press compilations "On Being a Doctor," first and second editions, and, with Dr. Laine, is co-editor of "On Being a Doctor 3."

Dr. Laine is an internist, researcher, and medical educator. She is vice president and senior deputy editor of Annals of Internal Medicine, which is published by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States.

ACP members include 126,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students, residents and fellows. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illness in adults.

NOTES: For editor interviews, contact Lynda Teer (lteer@acponline.org ; 215-351-2655) at the American College of Physicians. Limited number of review copies available.

ACP Press also publishes "Post Mortem: Solving History's Great Medical Mysteries," and "The Quotable Osler," among other titles in clinical medicine and the medical humanities.

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