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Authors: Erich Segal

Doctors

BOOK: Doctors
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Med School provides perhaps the best substantiation for Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. For here we see in its cruelest form the survival of the fittest. Not the smartest, as one should expect. But the fittest to cope with the inhuman pressures, the demands made not only on the brain but on the psyche.
 …”—From
Doctors

THE CALLING THEY HAVE CHOSEN WILL BREAK SOME OF THEM WHILE IT WILL FORCE OTHERS TO CONFRONT THEIR MOST CLOSELY HELD SECRETS, DREAMS, AND FEARS.…

BARNEY
—He watched, helpless, as a physician turned his back on his dying father. At that moment. Barney vowed to become a different kind of doctor. Compassion and insight will lead him to psychiatry, and to the shattering knowledge that some of those who most desperately need healing in mind and spirit are his fellow doctors.

LAURA
—Her father, himself an accomplished doctor, fled the horrors of the Spanish Civil War only to have his medical skills refused recognition in his new country. Laura will follow her father’s dream to Harvard Med only to discover that for a woman in a man’s profession—especially the exclusive world of high-tech medical research—a dream can quickly turn to nightmare.

BENNETT
—A lone black among whites, he is handsome, charismatic, but always secretive and wary. The tumultuous events of the sixties and seventies will force him to confront his identity. But his greatest challenge will come from a single impulsive act that threatens to end his career as a talented surgeon at the very moment he has proven just how brilliant that career might be.

SETH
—Studious and shy, sensitive beyond measure to suffering, he knows firsthand the numbing effect of tragic illness on a family, for it is, indeed, the accident that robbed his own brother of meaningful life that forges in Seth his will to heal. Yet he will find himself facing the hardest choice: to use his skills to preserve life—or to end it.

THEY ARE THE
DOCTORS

BOOKS BY ERICH SEGAL

NOVELS

Love Story
Oliver’s Story
Man, Woman and Child
The Class
Doctors
Acts of Faith
Prizes

FOR CHILDREN

Fairy Tale

ACADEMIC BOOKS

Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus
Euripides: A Collection of Critical Essays (Ed.)
Plautus: Three Comedies (Ed. and Trans.)
The Oxford Readings in Greek Tragedy (Ed.)
Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects (Co-ed.)
Plato’s Dialogues (Ed.)

Publisher’s Note
This is a novel about fictional members of a Harvard Medical School class.
All of the characters and incidents in this novel are the creations of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

DOCTORS
A Bantam Book
PUBLISHING HISTORY
Bantam hardcover edition / August 1988
Bantam paperback edition / August 1989

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint lyrics from: “Fly Me to the Moon—In Other Words,” words and music by Bart Howard. TRO © copyright 1954 (renewed 1982) by Hampshire House Publishing Corp., New York. “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” by Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne. Copyright © 1957 by Norbeth Productions, Inc. and Stephen Sondheim. All rights administered by Chappell and Co. International copyright secured.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1988 by Ploys, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 88-14547.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.

ISBN 0-553-27811-8
eBook ISBN: 978-0-8041-5322-5

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.

v3.1

For Karen and Francesca

“The most fundamental principle of Medicine is love.”
P
ARACELSUS
(1493–1541)
The Great Art of Surgery

“We have turned doctors into gods and worship their deity by offering up our bodies and our souls—not to mention our worldly goods.

“And yet paradoxically, they are the most vulnerable of human beings. Their suicide rate is eight times the national average. Their percentage of drug addiction is
one hundred
times higher.

“And because they are painfully aware that they cannot live up to our expectations, their anguish is unquantifiably intense. They have aptly been called ‘wounded healers.’ ”

B
ARNEY
L
IVINGSTON
,
M.D.
Doctors
                        

“… the United States loses the equivalent of seven medical school graduating classes each year to drug addiction, alcoholism, and suicide.”

D
AVID
H
ILFIKER
,
M.D.
 
Healing the Wounds
 

PROLOGUE

W
ith a single exception they were all white. And with five exceptions all male.

Some were brilliant bordering on genius. Others, genius bordering on madness. One had played a cello recital at Carnegie Hall, another had played a year of professional basketball. Six had written novels, two of which had actually been published. One was a lapsed priest. One was a graduate of reform school. All were scared to death.

What had brought them together on this bright September morning in 1958 was their common status as first-year students at Harvard Medical School. They had gathered in Room D to hear a welcoming address by Dean Courtney Holmes.

His features could have come straight from a Roman coin. And his demeanor gave the impression that he had been born with a gold watch and chain instead of an umbilical cord.

He did not have to call for quiet. He merely smiled and the spectators hushed.

“Gentlemen,” he began, “you are collectively embarking on a great voyage to the frontiers of medical knowledge—which is where you will begin your own individual explorations in the yet-uncharted territory of suffering and disease. Someone sitting in this room may find a cure for leukemia, diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus and the deadly hydra-headed carcinomas …”

He took a perfectly timed dramatic pause. And with a sparkle in his pale blue eyes he added, “Perhaps even the common cold.”

There was appreciative laughter.

Then the silver-haired dean lowered his head, perhaps to signify that he was deep in thought. The students waited in suspense.

When at last he looked up and began to speak again, his voice was softer, an octave lower.

“Let me conclude by disclosing a secret—as humbling for me to reveal as for you to hear.”

He turned and wrote something on the blackboard behind him.

Two simple digits—the number twenty-six.

A buzz of bewilderment filled the room.

Holmes waited for quiet to return, drew breath, and then gazed straight into the spellbound auditorium.

“Gentlemen, I urge you to engrave this on the template of your memories: there are thousands of diseases in this world, but Medical Science only has an empirical cure for
twenty-six
of them. The rest is … guesswork.”

And that was all.

With military posture and athletic grace, he strode off the podium and out of the room.

The crowd was too dazzled to applaud.

I
INNOCENCE

“They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter.

“But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken.”

W
ILLIAM
C
ARLOS
W
ILLIAMS
(1883–1963)
Pediatrician and poet

ONE

B
arney Livingston was the first boy in Brooklyn to see Laura Castellano naked.

One August morning in the summer he turned five, he wandered into his backyard and was saluted by an unfamiliar voice.

“Hi.”

He glanced toward the neighboring garden. Peering over the fence was a blond little girl who looked about his age. He felt a twinge of nostalgia for the previous occupants, who had included a terrific punchball player named Murray. And from what he’d heard, these new people didn’t even have a
boy.

Barney was therefore surprised when, after introducing herself, Laura suggested they play catch. He shrugged a sort of dubious okay, and went to get his Spauldeen.

When he returned a moment later clutching a small rubber ball, pink as Bazooka bubble gum, she was standing in the middle of his garden.

“How did you get here?” he asked.

“I climbed over the fence,” she answered nonchalantly. “Okay,
vámonos
, throw me a high one.”

Understandably, Barney was slightly off balance and bobbled the ball that Laura had deftly caught and vigorously tossed back. For he was still disconcerted by the fact that Murray had been
seven
years old and still had needed assistance to get over the fence, whereas this Laura had apparently vaulted it with ease.

After an energetic half hour, Barney decided that Laura had satisfactorily filled Murray’s shoes (sneakers, actually). He reached into his pocket and produced a pack of cigarettes labeled “Lucky Stripe,” and offered one to her.

BOOK: Doctors
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