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March 01, 1987|William B. Waddell

MANHATTAN COUNTRY DOCTOR by Milton Jonathan Slocum MD (Scribner's: $16.95; 271 pp.). At first notice, the title, "Manhattan Country Doctor" raises one's eyebrow as an obvious contradiction. Yet, within a few pages, Milton Jonathan Slocum convinces one that those warm, caring qualities traditionally held to be those of the country doctor can flourish amid brownstone and tenement.

Physicians make wonderful stuffed shirts. It comes naturally. You begin believing all those nice things your patients say about you. However, Slocum has maintained his perspective in a mellow, philosophical way that makes one want to sit down and talk with him.

One of the more remarkable human relationships is that between physician and office nurse. At its best, it is a melding of personalities that conveys caring, understanding, and efficiency to the patient. The other person who shines through this exposition of a true country doctor's practice is Belle Slocum, a wife equally at ease managing a tugboat business or her husband's office. Slocum is aware that he has been more than fortunate to be a member of this remarkable troika.

These are wonderful reminiscences in short, readable chapters. The author's direct and simple writing enlivens his characters. He is especially good at breaking medical jargon into digestible prose while retaining enough strength to keep the professional interested. His stories have a universal quality that will unleash any physician's memories and entertain all readers. A nice antidote to troubled times. I want to read Slocum's next memoir.

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