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06.06.05 Dary, David, Frontier Medicine, From the Atlantic to the Pacific, 1492-1941, published in 2008

Notes Concerning the Author

David Dary (August 21, 1934-present)was born in Manhattan, Kansas, near the land his great-grandfather settled in 1865. He is the author of more than twenty books, mostly dealing with historical aspects of the American West.  Dary received his undergraduate degree from Kansas State University (1956), and also holds a MS degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas in Lawrence. David began his career in Topeka in radio and TV, then Texas. Later David joined CBS News in Washington, DC, but later changed to NBC News In the late 1960s he returned to Topeka to an NBC affiliate and began teaching journalism at the University of Kansas.  Some twenty years later he became chair of the School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma in  Norman.  He retired in 2000 from that position and currently is emeritus professor at Oklahoma. Dary makes his home in Norman, Oklahoma, with his wife, Sue.  He is the proud father of four daughters and seven grandchildren.


Published in 2008 by Vintage Books, this fascinating book is a departure from the author’s usual area of writing, which is historical aspects of the American West. Interesting enough, the book covers medicine from the arrival of those first Europeans in the sixteenth century until just before America’s entry into World War II, which the author contends is really the end of the frontier aspect of American medicine. There are sections on the significant contributions of American Indians, admixed with early Europeans theories and practices. And the author truly does cover the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

There are multiple illustrations from early publications over the years under discussion, and copies of old photographs, which add significantly to the reader’s enjoyment.  This 322 page book is an easy read, requiring no knowledge of medical terms.  In addition, there is an excellent Glossary at the back of old medical terms that is most interesting.  The book is well documented, with footnotes at the end of the book for those wishing to explore in further detail.  There is also an excellent Bibliography and an Index at the back.

As a physician, I found this book fascinating even though it is written for the nonmedical person.  Dary has loaded the work with fascinating tidbits, and the location of many interesting developments.  Many states have some mention in the book. In short, I highly recommend this book to every reader!


The book is available as both trade paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon. Also available from Barnes and Noble. I obtained mine from the gift shop at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.