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This is a fascinating historical document about one of the giants of English neurology, extensively researched and written by authors whose life and experience uniquely qualify them to provide a detailed and touching account of the life of this great man. For those of us brought up in the modem era of magnetic resonance scanning, functional imaging and complicated neurophysiological techniques, it is humbling to read about the achievements of a man whose only tools were his powers of observation and obsessive and detailed recording of what he saw in his daily practice and his ability to recognise clinical patterns of disease. Eileen Critchley provides much of the detailed pedigree research which allows us to understand those people close to Huglings Jackson who influenced him in his formative years and also provide a insight into life at the time. The well known Welsh connection is examined in detail and one cannot help but be impressed by the lengths the authors have gone to provide as much accuracy as possible. This biography takes us through the initial medical training and apprenticeship at the time at the now defunct medical school at York containing only 12 students (and no women) a year with interesting excerpts of documents providing snippets of personal information; the sole remaining letter from his father is particularly touching with some standard paternal advice extolling the virtues of prudence, in particular keeping his tailoring bill down. Huglings Jackson seemed to have been set on a career in neurology from an early age stimulated by his interest in anatomy and possibly a Bell’s palsy which he developed early in his life. It was therefore not surprising that he took a well trodden path to London to insert himself into society and to learn from the great neurologists of the era. His arrival coincided with the cholera epidemic of 1862 during which his services were recognised. His subsequent academic life was awesome, his publishing life extending over 46 years providing as is well known some of our fundamental understanding of the epilepsies and in particular the aphasias which are examined in detail in this book.
I very much enjoyed reading this work which provides an authorative account of one of the founding fathers of our trade and would recommend it to neurologists young and old.