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R. Gordon Bell with Stan Solomon

Toronto, Stoddart, 1989. 256pp, cloth, $29.95
ISBN 0-7737-2203-3. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up
Reviewed by Ruth Bainbridge.

Volume 17 Number 5
1989 September

Dr. Bell is a medical doctor who has dedicated his life to treating alco­holism. He opened his first treatment centre in 1946 and since that time has become a well known figure both in Canada and the U.S., leading the way in innovating the treatment of addiction to alcohol and more recently, other forms of chemical dependence. His credentials are too numerous to list; suffice it to say that he has worked in this field for over forty years and has constantly searched for better and more effective ways to treat those afflicted with chemical dependence. Besides treating the patients in a holistic manner, he lectured thoughout North America, primarily to medical personnel, and also developed support groups for families of those with addictions.

The introduction of this book begins well, capturing the reader's interest in a very topical subject, that of the pan­demic of addiction to chemical substances. Unfortunately, the author then begins in chapter one to weave a long, tedious tale of his personal life, beginning with his own birth in 1911 and progressing chapter by chapter to seventy-eight years later. Throughout this chronological personal tale. Boll discusses the trials and tribulations associated with the establishment of the several clinics that he and his family have set up over the years, from the first facility called Glenmaple, which opened in 1946 with only three patients, up to and including the most recent facility, Bellwood in 1986. Also briefly mentioned are his philosophy regarding addiction and the variety of treatment methods that he has evolved over the years. Dr. Bell was certainly a trendsetter in the field of addiction but this book does not concentrate on this aspect of his life and career. He does make brief reference to some articles that he has written for a variety of medical journals as well as another book that concentrates on the treatment of addiction.

A Special Calling contains eight pages of black-and-white photographs of the Bell family. It depicts the life, both personal and professional, of a very dedicated medical doctor and outlines the problems associated with setting up health care facilities. Unfortunately, the book contains neither an index nor a bibliography which makes it difficult to use as a reference text.

Ruth Bainbridge, Humber College, Rexdale, Ont.
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