Frank G(ill) Slaughter Margaret Wallace - Essay

Margaret Wallace

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["That None Should Die"] is an unusual novel about medicine in the United States. It is a story no layman could have told—that no layman, for that matter, would have been justified in trying to tell. It is a story that no doctor of all those who have written books in recent years has had the courage and bluntness to attempt. Dr. Frank G. Slaughter, a young Florida physician, is sharply critical of medicine as it is now practiced. He believes that the present policies of organized medicine are heading the profession, and the public which depends upon it, for trouble. Exactly what kind of trouble, his novel will explain in convincing detail.

Dr. Slaughter can afford to be critical. It is clear in every line of his book that he knows what he is talking about…. Dr. Slaughter manifestly loves his profession. He believes it, whatever its faults, to be the highest of callings, and one which is practiced in the main with more courage and cheerfulness and generosity than the layman ever dreams.

One has done Dr. Slaughter a wrong, however, if this suggests that his book is overladen with discussion. "That None Should Die" is first of all a cracking good story, one which holds the reader's attention from beginning to end. Told without any great stylistic grace, but in a serviceable, utilitarian prose that does about everything asked of it, "That None Should Die" is the story of a medical idealist….

As a polemic novel "That None Should Die" is pretty close to tops. No book in recent seasons has offered anything like so much straight and informative writing about medicine. If it fails to arouse exciting and vigorous controversy, then the average reader cares much less than we have been led to suppose about what may happen to him when he goes to the hospital.

Margaret Wallace, "Doctors and the State," in The New York Times Book Review (copyright © 1941 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), March 23, 1941, p. 26.