In this section I will review books that I recommend for my readers, as they pursue their education in this new field of Integrated Medicine. To understand a system as different and complex as the Chinese, the most enjoyable and expedient way to learn about it is to read a variety of sources relating not just to its Medicine, but to its culture as a whole. I believe that the more we know about a society and its culture, the deeper our understanding will be of the contributions of its civilization.
1) THE GENIUS OF CHINA, 3,000 years of science, discovery and inventions authored by Robert Temple is a very interesting and entertaining introduction to the inventiveness of China and its many contributions to Western Civilization. If we look at today's world from a well-informed position, we realize that much of the comforts we take for granted came from China long ago, and that our everyday lives have already been an integration of both civilizations for many centuries!
We write on paper at this very moment, we use matches, play cards, fly kites and look at our watches as we move through our days. All these common "gods" just mentioned, and many more were originally developed in China. Even the moveable type of printing (single letters set in lines, that could be reused) which we so often credit Johan Gutenberg (a countryman of mine) with, was really invented by Pi Sheng from China, between 1041 and 1048, some 400 years before Gutenburg's 1450 press!
Interesting facts on medical discoveries, such as the circulation of blood, which was described by Harvey in Europe in 1628, are presented to the reader, who will learn that discussions on blood circulation were already recorded in the Yellow Emperor's Manual of Corporeal Medicine, written two thousand years earlier!
The book is well documented and richly illustrated. It is published by A Touchstone Book (Simon & Schuster, Inc.), and my personal copy is a 1986 edition.
2) CELEBRATED CASES OF JUDGE DEE (Dee Goong An) is an authentic 18th Century Chinese detective novel by an Anonymous author. This book has been translated by Robert Van Gulik and was first published privately in Tokyo in 1949. The one and only edition still in print is by Dover Publishers, as it was published in 1976.
Judge Dee was a celebrated district magistrate of the Tang dynasty (618 A.D. - 907 A.D.), who was born in 630 A.D. and who died in 700 A.D., according to Chinese historical records. He was known for his high moral standards, brilliant intellect and refined intuition, as well as for his outstanding legal work.
The novel describes three of the most famous cases solved and handled by him. Judges in those times would not only try cases, but were also expected to investigate them personally. The novel is a clever and interesting recount of events that took place in Judge Dee's court during the 7th century. It familiarized us with the ingenuity and pragmatism of Chinese thought, as well as with the different aspects of the Chinese Penal Code, which was in force from 650 A.D. until the early part of the 20th century. Under Chinese Criminal Law, Judges were just as powerful as they were responsible for their acts. Therefore, if an innocent person would die during interrogation (confession was an absolute requisite to sentencing), the judge and all his assistants involved in the person's death would also receive the death penalty. This made judges very sharp, alert, and fair; but likewise criminals would rarely escape punishment. It was known that the district of a fair, competent judge would enjoy peace and harmony and, on the other hand his entire town up and against him.
What is especially revealing in this novel besides just being fun reading, is how criminal cases were evaluated, data collected and solutions arrived at. This has directed parallels to how Chinese physicians collect clinical data for analysis, diagnosis and treatment.
Robert Van Gulik was a Dutch sinologist (a scholar of Chinese studies), who lived between 1910 and 1967 and who has left us not only with the books on Chinese history and culture, which are of great academic value.
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