Synopses & Reviews
Elizabeth Blackwell believed from an early age that she was destined for a mission beyond the scope of "ordinary" womanhood. Though the world at first recoiled at the notion of a woman studying medicine, her intelligence and intensity ultimately won her the acceptance of the male medical establishment. In 1849, she became the first woman in America to receive an M.D. She was soon joined in her iconic achievement by her younger sister, Emily, who was actually the more brilliant physician.
Exploring the sisters' allies, enemies, and enduring partnership, Janice P. Nimura presents a story of trial and triumph. Together, the Blackwells founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital staffed entirely by women. Both sisters were tenacious and visionary, but their convictions did not always align with the emergence of women's rights — or with each other. From Bristol, Paris, and Edinburgh to the rising cities of antebellum America, this richly researched new biography celebrates two complicated pioneers who exploded the limits of possibility for women in medicine. As Elizabeth herself predicted, "a hundred years hence, women will not be what they are now."
"A compellingly portrayed and vividly realized biography of triumph and trailblazing." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"A captivating biography....In recounting the lives of two ambitious figures who opened doors for many who came after them, Nimura casts a thoughtful and revelatory new light onto women's and medical history," Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"With the fiercely intelligent, prickly sisters at the center, Nimura's engrossing and enlightening group biography is highly recommended." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Janice P. Nimura has gifted us with more than a splendid history of the Blackwell sisters. Gripping, vividly written, and moving, it is also a surprisingly timely history of the misogynist, limited, still evolving Anglo-American medical profession." Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volumes 1-3
"All doctors and all patients owe a debt to these eccentric, determined, brilliant characters, Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, who found their way across the strange and bloody landscape of nineteenth-century medicine and transformed it forever, all brilliantly conjured in Janice P. Nimura's wonderful book." Perri Klass, author of A Good Time to Be Born
"The Blackwell sisters took on the medical establishment and won. They are heroines, not just of their time, but for every age. Their incredible story has been crying out to be told, and in Janice P. Nimura they have the ideal biographer. The Blackwells live and triumph again." Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
"The Doctors Blackwell should be required reading in all medical schools, indeed for anyone who has ever consulted a doctor. This rousing story of two brilliant and determined nineteenth-century sisters is also a history of American medicine — how it was practiced and by whom. That the Blackwells arrived in the United States during a cholera epidemic and made it their mission to provide medical care to the underserved, while also promoting the twin causes of women's rights and abolition, brings this narrative hurtling into the twenty-first century, demanding our attention today." Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life
About the Author
Janice P. Nimura is the winner of a 2017 Public Scholar award from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the author of Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back, a New York Times Notable Book. She lives in New York City.
Janice P. Nimura on PowellsBooks.Blog
I’ve always loved historic house museums, loved peering beyond the velvet rope into a Victorian bedroom or a colonial kitchen and imagining the ghosts that wore those dresses, or worked the handle of that butter churn, or laid the fire in that grate. If the rooms still exist, with their ornaments and implements intact, surely the people must also be hovering nearby...