Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Chapter Review: The Abraham Man by R. Gregory Lande

I'm a lover of history, mostly American history. For years, I read nonfiction exclusively, usually about the Civil War. Now, I read more fiction, but my love of history remains. The Abraham Man by R. Gregory Lande, takes a look at what impact malingering had on the formation and development of medical testimony.

BLURB:  The mere mention of the insanity defense guarantees a lively debate. Opponents of the defense cite the loss of criminal culpability while proponents argue just as passionately that the insanity defense is the ultimate act of compassion. The protagonists would probably be quite surprised to learn that the same basic concerns consumed Americans in the nineteenth century. One factor – The Abraham Man – sowed the seeds of confusion and controversy that united the past with the present.

Some of the most celebrated civil and criminal trials in American history were argued under the shadow of the Abraham Man. The detailed stories of long forgotten legal cases bring the antics of the Abraham Man to life. Through the process, readers will follow the careers of notable Civil War era surgeons whose post-war professional development shaped the future of modern mental health care.

COVER: The picture on the front cover is a scene of Bethlehem Hospital from William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress. I wasn't familiar with the piece, but this hospital is mentioned in the book and it makes for a beautiful cover.

FIRST CHAPTER: The opening chapter introduces The Abraham Man to the reader. In England, it referred to those who would fake illness or injury to get compassion and charity from the public. By the time of the American Civil War, the term was affixed to suspected shirkers. It is during these years, we also see attorneys and physicians working together and taking sides in America's courts where "madness, malingering, malfeasance, and money shaped the future of forensic psychiatry."

KEEP READING: This is a fascinating topic, and Dr. Lande has a way of making it one I wish to continue reading about. Though very academic, I enjoyed how he brings the reader through from the time The Abraham Man appeared on the scene, to how public opinion changed toward the mentally ill, to the legal profession courting doctors for testimony, and how contested wills became such a big issue. The first chapter is short enough that I felt informed, but not overwhelmed. It is also detailed enough that though I know very little about this topic, I was never lost. I look forward to learning more.

Perfect Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Algora Publishing (September 30, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 087586936X
ISBN-13: 978-0875869360

R. Gregory Lande, DO is a physician and retired US Army Medical Corps Officer. Dr. Lande completed his medical education at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Lande was commissioned an officer in the US Army. During his career in the military, Dr. Lande was active in a wide variety of clinical, academic and administrative positions. Upon leaving the US Army as a full colonel, Dr. Lande was awarded the Legion of Merit recognizing his career contributions. The next phase of his career involved administrative positions in hospital management, research, and teaching at various civilian facilities. Dr. Lande is the author of numerous medical and historical works. He lectures widely on both subjects.

Visit Dr. Lande online at

I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. The author paid me to promote this book through a virtual book tour. This fee did not include any type of review. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way. 

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