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The Physician Hardcover – Aug 1986

4.6 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067147748X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671477486
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,559,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

When nine-year-old Rob Cole felt the life force slipping from his mother's hand he could not foresee that this terrifying awareness of impending death was a gift that would lead him from the familiar life of 11th-century London to small villages throughout England and finally to the medical school at Ispahan. Though apprenticed to an itinerant barber surgeon, it is the dazzling surgery of a Jewish physician trained by the legendary Persian physician Avicenna that inspires him to accept his gift and to commit his life to healing by studying at Avicenna's school. Despite the ban on Christian students, Rob goes there, disguising himself as a Jew to gain admission. Gordon has written an adventurous and inspiring tale of a quest for medical knowledge pursued in a violent world full of superstition and prejudice. Recommended. Literary Guild alternate. Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“Gordon’s compelling novel recreates the 11th century so powerfully that the reader is propelled through its several hundred pages by a tidal wave of imagination and authentic detail.” —Publishers Weekly

“Populated by engaging characters, rich in incident and vivid in historical detail, [The Physician] is a pleasure.” —The New York Times

[The Physician] has the flavor of Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, but with a deeper character development and story arc . . . . An insightful and unforgettable read.” —Zoltaire’s Blog

“An adventurous and inspiring tale of a quest for medical knowledge pursued in a violent world full of superstition and prejudice.” —Library Journal

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The physician" is a beautiful look into the life in those dusty old days (although just one thousand years ago, not really that far away, if you see what I mean). It is particularly looking at the life from the stand point of religious/cultural conflicts that divided the old societies, and more specifically through the eyes of a young westerner who carries a double burden of being a Christian while disguising as a Jewish student in the Moslem world. The story is taking place in Persia (Iran), and not the Arab part of the Islamic world; therefore the society is the most tolerant version of the Islamic world thanks to the Persian culture. The young English seeks to become a student of Avicena the great physician/philosopher of his time and many centuries to follow. However there is a problem.....only Moslems and Jews can go to medical school in Persia (Iran). He is left with no choice but disguising himself as a young European Jew to enter Persia and travel to Isfahan where Avicena trains new generation of physicians in a different way than anywhere else. This enables the talented writer to take the reader through a diverse experience of encounters and characters.
The writer is biased by his western background, however. Throughout the story there are comments implying discriminations against Jews that sound odd to a Persian who is raised in one of the most tolerant cultures (lets not mix "cultures" with "political systems" that appear temporarily and tarnish the figure of a nation). The fact that only Moslem and Jewish Iranians would be accepted to the school speaks volumes. I am not sure (and this needs to be explored) if Armenians who are Christian and have always lived in peace in Persia were eligible too or not.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is marvelous. A book describing an atribulated life of an orphan, from surviving (with 9 years old) in a dark England (and Europe) sufocated with the religious madness in those dark ages, passing by trip to Persia and... well, you'll read it! His objective is to become a physician. You'll learn to love the character. Great things will happen. In the end, when you remember what happened through the book, you will feel nostalgia... It's one of those book telling a life's story, that will keep you interested 'til the end, and make you think when you finish its reading. Recommended. Buy it! You won't regret it!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Here is a book I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. It was like living around the year 1000 and being taken on a tour around so you could see how different things were at that time. For example, I learned why the postal system in Europe uses the posthorn as its symbol. I learned where cruelty to children stems from. I learned why caravans were popular. I came to realize more fully why decent women prostituted themselves. And I learned much, much more from being carried back into that time about 1000 years ago. I wished the book just went on and on.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is one of the most fascinating I have read in a long time. An historical fiction which takes place in the 11th century, The Physician recounts the adventures of Rob J. Cole from his youth in England to the Islamic kingdom of Persia where he studies to be a Physician. This is a magical book and I would recommend it to almost anyone, irrespective of what genre of fiction they prefer.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It is no secret I adore historical fiction. It is also no secret I become impatient with historical fiction which isn't particularly well-researched and riddled with modern intrusions and perspectives.

Unfortunately, such is the case with Noah Gordon's first book in his Cole Family Trilogy.

The story follows a young man's need to find gainful employment in medieval England, a search which lands him with a charlatan medic who operates an itinerant snake oil show. There is something of the paranormal in Gordon's story, an ability the protagonist develops whereby he is able to feel the health of imminent death of a patient.

When his employer dies, he takes it upon himself to travel to Persia, disguised as a Jew, in order to study with a physician purported to be the best in the world.

While a consumable read, for this reader the story just didn't hang together, primarily because there were so many plausibility questions, outright material culture errors, and stereotyped gender and cultural points.

Altogether disappointing, and not enough interest to want to continue with the series. Your mileage may vary.
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Format: Kindle Edition
4.5* It took several chapters for the captivating and superb story to emerge within these 768 pages. Although the beginning of the book had some interesting events, it tended to drag on with the same theme. Approximately half way into the book it came alive and so begins the arduous adventure of the physician barber Rob J. Cole. Set in the 11th century, Cole is left an orphan at 9 years of age, while his siblings are taken in by other families from British villages not far from his own home. With a difficult and demanding road to travel once he reaches manhood his one true desire takes hold; to become the best physician he could possibly be. Travelling far from his homeland Cole meets several individuals who help him as he struggles to achieve his quest. As the story continues to unfold, his new acquaintances begin to form a strong bond of real and lasting friendship enhancing the storyline significantly. If the book had 200 pages trimmed from the first half, and some 100 pages from the remaining half it would be a true masterpiece. Having managed to carry on through the first half of this substantial book through to the end, it was well worth the journey.
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