Based on a British Broadcasting Corporation television series, this imaginative, beautifully illustrated historical overview of important developments in medicine looks like a "coffee-table" book and reads like an adventure story. It is, however, a serious work that carries, among others, two important, albeit controversial, messages. Miller contends that medicine's progress owes less to therapeutic advances than to discoveries of how the body functions and that these insightful discoveries derive from metaphors usually extrapolated from mechanical models. Harvey's discovery of the circulation was evoked by the model of fire pumps, Sherrington's discovery of neural autoregulation by that of automated machines.
Whether or not one agrees with Miller, one need not forego the pleasure of reading his book, which, although not intended primarily for physicians, cannot fail to interest and delight them.