In First Cut the author, Albert Howard Carter, follows first year medical students at Emory University through their course in human dissection. In the anatomy lab, Carter, a humanities professor with a curiosity about the medical profession, observes the reactions of the students to the cadavers, their "silent instructors." The students overcome their initial discomfort with a dead body and begin to marvel at the intricacy of the human anatomy. The description of each phase of dissection is accompanied by the beautiful anatomical drawings from De Human Corporis Fabica by the 16th century artist and anatomist Andreas Versalius. Carter's father donated his body to a medical school and after watching the students gain a knowledge about and a respect for the cadavers, Carter decides to donate his own body.
The descriptions of the dissections and Versalius' drawings will give the general reader a basic appreciation of his or her own anatomy. Also, the reader will learn that the anatomy lab is not a ghoulish place but a place of learning and respect. For anyone interested in medical school, this book is a good introduction into what a medical student will experince in an anatomy lab.
Reviewed by sc, 6/99. Other reviews by sc.