The Cry and the Covenant

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The Cry and the Covenant is a novel by Morton Thompson written in 1949 and published by Doubleday. The novel is a fictionalized story of Ignaz Semmelweis, an Austrian-Hungarian physician known for his research into puerperal fever and his advances in medical hygiene. The novel includes historical references, and details into Semmelweis' youth and education, as well as his later studies.


Ignaz Semmelweis is a curious child who often gets in trouble at school for asking too many questions. Later in life, he travels to Vienna to study medicine, having been taken under the wing of a wealthy friend. Ignaz concludes that washing hands prevents puerperal fever infections. Because of his nationality his theories are scoffed at and he is eventually driven mad in the face of the ignorance which causes so much death. He later commits suicide by slashing open his hands and thrusting them into a corpse, later to die of puerperal fever.