Doctors (novel)

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Author Erich Segal
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Bantam Books
Publication date
Media type Hardcover
Pages 679pp
ISBN 0-553-05294-2
OCLC 17918030
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3569.E4 D64 1988

Doctors is a 1988 novel by Erich Segal that deals with the Harvard Medical School class of 1962, with emphasis on the two main characters, Barney Livingston and Laura Castellano. They grew up next to each other and always aspired to be doctors, eventually ending up in medical school together. There they meet the other characters who also came to become doctors, viz., Bennett Landsman, Seth Lazarus, Hank Dwyer, Peter Wyman, Grete Anderson, and Lance Mortimer among others. Some of the other doctors mentioned in the novel who leave a strong impression on readers' minds are: Dr. Luis Castellano, Laura's father, Dean Courtney Holmes at Harvard, Andrew Himmerman, Marshall Jaffe, Paul Rhodes and Toivo Karvonen.

It is one of the more realistic depictions of medical professionals and scientific researchers in the domain[citation needed], apart from the usual emotional plot. The issues of medical and research ethics and euthanasia also form integral parts of the whole plot.


The story begins with the childhood days of Barney Livingston and Laura Castellano and the incidents which motivated them to ultimately become doctors. The story then traces their days at medical school. The background of the students provide an insight into the many troubles faced by them. As the story progresses, the strength and weaknesses of their characters come to light. All are struggling with ethics, failed relationships and prejudices of those times. After a failed marriage and a string of failed relationships, Laura and Barney realize their love for each other.

Erich Segal had extensively researched the lives of medical students and doctors in practice. Apart from that he acknowledges the inspirations from Gentle Vengeance by Charles LeBaron, Getting Better by Kenneth Klein and Becoming a Doctor by Melvin Konner. He has drawn some anecdotes from The Making of a Surgeon by William Nolen, The Making of a Psychiatrist by David Viscott, The End of Life: Euthanasia and Morality by James Rachels and Requiem pour la Vie by Leon Schwartzenberg.

A similar (though much smaller book) is The Year of the Intern by Robin Cook. Doctors had reached the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list[citation needed].

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