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“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

LP Hartley’s immortal words could have been written for these fascinating reflections on the practice of ear, nose and throat surgery during the second half of the 20th century. Ellis Douek, the pioneering hearing implant surgeon, guides us through the many highlights of his professional life in this well-written account leavened by his wry sense of humour.

From encounters with politicians and entertainers to reflections on the early years of the National Health Service, this autobiographical work is by turns insightful, thought-provoking and amusing. His unique recollections, covering topics ranging from allograft tympanoplasty to the origins of cochlear implantation, are invariably a delight to read.

This work will appeal to both practising surgeons and those who seek to better appreciate the history of medicine. It will be of interest to those who want to understand the world of ear, nose and throat surgery. Many textbooks answer the question of what the current state of knowledge is; these reflections help to explain how we got here.

It is an easy book to pick up and enjoy, then come back to later. Ellis Douek’s prose is concise and yet portrays the flair of the author. I hope that you have to opportunity to enjoy this book as much as I did. It’s not cheap for a fairly short book, which I hope does not limit its audience, but if you decide to obtain a copy, I think you will find it worth the investment.

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Matthew RB MaFarr

Sheffield Children’s Hospital, UK.

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