Journey Into the Heart by David Monagan

This is an incredible story. The daring, energy, and optimism of the men who pioneered cardiology in the twentieth century are truly extraordinary. This book focuses primarily on Andreas Gruentzig, the East German cardiologist who developed and refined angioplasty. The story becomes a Greek tragedy as success leads to hubris and hubris leads to nemesis. Yet the work of Gruentzig and his precursors lives on and has changed the lives of thousands of people suffering from heart disease. Gruentzig himself is practically a figure from an Ayn Rand novel, larger than life and seemingly superhuman, whose appetite for risk and pushing the limits unfortunately led to his untimely demise. This book is thus both inspiring and cautionary. But it does support the thesis that progress is the work of a few extraordinary individuals who stand head and shoulders above the rest of us.

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