Bloodletting and Germs

A Doctor in Nineteenth Century Rural New York

Fiction - Historical - Personage
361 Pages
Reviewed on 07/02/2020
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Author Biography

Dr. Rosenthal is Emeritus Professor, and former Chairperson of Family Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. His practice experience includes urban and rural communities. He authored more than 60 peer reviewed papers, numerous commentaries, and a monograph on puzzling physical complaints. Dr. Rosenthal also edited the Journal of Rural Health, and the textbook Office Based Geriatrics. He has been honored with numerous local, statewide and national awards in medical education. Bloodletting and Germs reflects his lifelong observations of how advances in medical science impact primary medical care at the community level.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Bloodletting and Germs: A Doctor in Nineteenth-Century Rural New York by Thomas Rosenthal is a historical novel that explores strong medical themes and the work of Dr. Jabez Allen, a setting that is at the turning point in medical history. Dr. Allen is not particularly loved by his peers who reject his application for a license. But to practice, he will have to be intelligent and to outwit his enemies, using a drugstore in rural New York as a front. This novel showcases the work of a brave man who gave everything to his country, a doctor whose doors were wide open to anyone in need, and who remained faithful to his motto: “No Cure, No Pay.”

Thomas Rosenthal writes in a style that is evocative and provides powerful historical hints. The setting is brilliantly captured, with shades of the Civil War, anthrax, and cholera pandemic. The personality of Dr. Allen is ingeniously developed and readers encounter a man passionate about his service to society, backed by an indefatigable wife who doubles as an Underground Railroad activist. While this is a novel that transports readers back to a historical moment and allows them to relive some of the events of the time, it is an inspiration to readers who want to make a difference and anyone with a dream that can impact lives. The writing is beautiful and the reader is left in no doubt that this is a rich novel, well-researched, and beautifully written. Bloodletting and Germs: A Doctor in Nineteenth-Century Rural New York is both captivating and inspiring, a compelling historical novel.

K.C. Finn

Bloodletting and Germs: A Doctor in Nineteenth Century Rural New York is a fascinating work of fiction in the historical and medical sub-genres and was penned by author Thomas Rosenthal. Written for adults due to its complexity of writing style and detailed historical content, this intriguing read takes us to East Aurora, New York state in the year of 1834, where we see the opening of a rural drug store. Its owner is the real historical figure of Dr. Jabez Allen, whose struggles are only just beginning as he offers his services, intellect, and heart up to those he aims to cure. What results is a time capsule of an era of struggle, disease, civil unrest and so much more as one brave couple forges ahead in their passions.

Author Thomas Rosenthal has done an incredible job of bringing to life a time of intense difficulty, but also retaining a modern sense of hope and triumph in the hearts and minds of the central characters. It is because they are trailblazers that we are able to empathize with and root for Dr. and Mrs. Allen in their quests for recognition. The lexical choices bring about detailed elements from their struggles as well as painting the background climate of burgeoning war and the threat of powerful under-researched diseases. The dialogue too is a particular strength, characterizing every figure with a unique voice that resounds from history. If you’re looking for a realistic work of fiction that truly brings the past to life, I would highly recommend Bloodletting and Germs for your next historical read.

Rabia Tanveer

Bloodletting and Germs: A Doctor in Nineteenth Century Rural New York by Thomas Rosenthal is a memoir of a brilliant doctor who only wanted to help anyone who would ask for it. Set in the early 1800s, the story follows one daring Dr. Jabez Allen as he tries to save lives in a small town. Jabez worked hard to get a medical license. All he ever wanted was to help people get medical assistance and he just needs a license to achieve his dreams. However, his peers deny him that. So instead of sitting back and letting them win, he opens his practice in the guise of a drug store in rural New York. And so, he continues to serve his community with the motto “No Cure, No Pay.” Nothing can stop him from providing relief to the ailing and no challenge is big enough for Jabez to stop. With his wife Millicent by his side, Jabez can overcome anything!

I have no other words to explain the author’s writing style but “redolent.” He evoked feelings of nostalgia and remembrance with his words that amazed me. I was not expecting the story to be this detailed and intricate. Author Thomas Rosenthal weaved pictures with his worlds and transported me to the 19th century where the characters were living through perilous cholera and the treacherous Civil War. I can only imagine the amount of research the author had to do to make Dr. Allen’s character as genuine as possible. As the story progressed, I got involved in Allen’s quest to serve and help others. He grew and evolved from being a timid man with a dream to a man who gallantly moved forward and boldly put his feet wherever he wanted because he knew what he was doing was right. He had validation from the people and the support of Millicent that gave him the boost he needed to be more fearless. Bloodletting and Germs is a brilliantly composed novel that I really enjoyed!