Based on the PBS documentary by Ken Burns, Erik Ewers, and Christopher Loren Ewers airing
On September 30, 1889, W.W. Mayo and his sons Will and Charlie performed the very first
operation at a brand-new Catholic hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. It was called Saint
The hospital arose out of the devastation of a tornado that had struck the town six years earlier. After
the storm, Mother Alfred Moes of the Sisters of Saint Francis told the Mayos that she had a vision of
building a hospital that would "become world renowned for its medical arts."
Based on the film by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, The Mayo Clinic: Faith, Hope,
Science chronicles the history of this unique organization, from its roots as an unlikely partnership
between a country doctor and a Franciscan order of nuns to its position today as a worldwide model
for patient care, research, and education.
Featuring more than 400 compelling archival and modern images, as well as the complete script
from the film, the book demonstrates how the institution’s remarkable 150-year history continues to
inspire the way medicine is practiced there today. In addition, a series of case studies reveals
patients, doctors, and nurses in their most private moments as together they face difficult diagnoses
and embark on uncertain treatments.
The film and this companion book tell the story of an organization that has managed to stay true to
its primary value—the needs of the patient come first. Together, they make an important contribution
to the critical discussions about the delivery of health care today in America ... and the world.
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KEN BURNS has been making documentary films for almost forty years. Since the Academy
Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the
most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The
Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd
Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The
National Parks: America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; Defying
the Nazis: The Sharps' War; and The Vietnam War.
Future projects include films on the history of country music, Ernest Hemingway, Muhammad Ali,
Benjamin Franklin, the American Revolution, the history of crime and punishment in America, Lyndon B. Johnson and Civil Rights, Leonardo da Vinci, the history of Reconstruction, and Winston
Churchill, among others.
Ken’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including fifteen Emmy Awards, two
Grammy Awards, and two Oscar nominations. In 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards,
Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement
DAVID BLISTEIN spent twenty-five years as the owner and creative director of a regional ad
agency, after which he began writing nonfiction books and documentaries. He was a writer on the
PBS documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies and is currently working on a documentary
about The Gene and co-authoring a book on the history of opium. David cowrote Grover Cleveland
Again! with Ken Burns—a book about the American presidents for young adults—and is the author
of David’s Inferno.
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