"Fiction and Physicians" is a fascinating collection of linked essays, brief biographies and literary reviews that relate to medicine in the context of literature (including novels, short stories, poetry and plays). The central focus is on doctors who wrote fiction; memorable fictional doctors as described by mostly non-medical authors; and medical illness portrayed vividly in fiction. Part One looks at Doctors Writing Fiction, and starts by examining why over the millennia so many in the medical profession have put pen to paper. The author first looks at the Old Medical Masters, ranging from Rabelais and Nostrodamus to Oliver Goldsmith and Erasmus Darwin and then moves on to Nineteenth Century Physician-Writers to include John Keats, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and many others. In a similar vein, the next chapters cover the lives, works and inspiration of more recent Physician-Writers, including William Somerset Maugham, Oliver St John Gogarty, William Carlos Williams, A. J. Cronin Michael Crichton.
Oliver Sacks, Ethan Canin, Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) and various medical thriller writers that include Paul Carson, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Palmer and Robin Cook. Part Two then looks at Fiction about Doctors, starting with Incompetent and Ambitious Fictional Physicians such as in "Tristam Shandy" before moving on to Heroic Fictional Physicians, featuring familiar figures like Doctor Zhivago. Chapter Eight discusses Fiction and Infection while Chapter Nine examines Fiction and Paranoia, with notable essays on "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and "Brave New World". The final chapter looks at Fictional Psychiatrists.