American Medical Biographies/Book, James Burgess

Book, James Burgess (1843–1916)

James Burgess Book, physician and financier, was born in Palermo, Canada, November 7, 1843, and died in Detroit, Michigan, January 31, 1916. He was the son of Jonathan Johnson and Hannah Priscilla Smith Book, who were both of Dutch descent. Dr. Book began his education in the Milton county, Ontario, grammar school and continued through the Milton high school and Ingersoll College. In 1858, he entered the literary department of the Toronto University, but at the end of his sophomore year took up the medical course in the same institution. Before graduation, however, he went to Philadelphia, where he entered the Jefferson Medical College, and received an M. D. there in March, 1865, returning to Toronto and receiving there a medical degree from the Toronto University. Some months later he began private practice at Windsor, Ont., but soon moved across the river to Detroit and settled there. He took up a series of post-graduate studies in the centers of medical learning in Europe, and in the fall of 1865 went to England and attended a course of lectures at Guy's Hospital Medical School, London, the oldest medical college in England. Having completed this course he went to Paris and attended for a year the École de Medicin, which was followed by a three months' course in practical experience in the general hospital at Vienna. He left there to go to Trieste where the cholera plague was raging and studied this dreadful disease, caring for hundreds of victims day and night. In 1867 he returned home to Detroit and resumed his private practice which he combined with his duties as professor of surgery and clinical surgery at the old Michigan Medical College. Later, he was professor of surgery at the Detroit College of Medicine. In 1872 he was appointed surgeon to St. Luke's Hospital, where he remained four years, and then he was attending surgeon at Harper Hospital. In 1882 he became surgeon-in-chief of the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad, where he continued until his retirement from the profession in 1895, when he turned his whole attention to business. He was a director of several banks and insurance companies and helped to finance some of the first and largest automobile companies in Detroit.

He was surgeon of the Independent Battalion of Detroit in 1881 and later regimental surgeon in the State National Guard.

He married Clotilde, daughter of Francis Palms, a capitalist of Detroit, and they had three children, James Burgess, Francis Palms, and Herbert Vivian Book.

It was as a skilful and daring operator that Dr. Book was especially noted. In 1882 he was the first in the west to remove successfully Meckel's ganglion. He wrote "Nerve Stretching," the result of a series of new experiments which he had conducted in what was then a new department in surgery; "The Influences of Syphilis and Other Diseases;" "Malarial Neuralgia"; "Inhalation in Diseases of the Air Passages."

Cyclopaedia of Amer. Biog., N. Y., 1819, vol. viii, 452.