A.J. Cronin

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The Citadel, a tale of a mining company doctor's struggle to balance scientific integrity with social obligations, incited the establishment of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom by exposing the inequity and incompetence of medical practice at the time. In the novel, Cronin advocated a free public health service in order to defeat the wiles of those doctors who "raised guinea-snatching and the bamboozling of patients to an art form."[3] Dr. Cronin and Aneurin Bevan had both worked at the Tredegar Cottage Hospital in Wales, which served as the basis for the NHS. The author quickly made a number of enemies in the medical profession, and there was a concerted effort by one group of specialists to get The Citadel banned. Cronin's novel, which was the publisher's best-selling book in its history, informed the public of corruption within the medical system, planting a seed that eventually led to necessary reform. Not only were the author's pioneering ideas instrumental in the creation of the NHS, but historian Raphael Samuel has stated that the popularity of his novels played a substantial role in the Labour Party's landslide 1945 victory.[7] By contrast, according to one of Cronin's biographers, Alan Davies, the book's reception was mixed. A few of the more vociferous medical practitioners of the day took exception to one of its many messages; that a few well-heeled doctors in fashionable practices were ripping off their equally well-off patients. Some, more sensibly, pointed to the lack of balance between criticism and praise for hard working doctors. The majority accepted it for what is was - a perceptive, topical novel. The press, typically, attempted to incite passions within the profession in an attempt to sell copy, while Victor Gollancz, Cronin's publisher, followed suit in an attempt to promote the book; all conveniently (or purposely) overlooking the fact that it was a work of fiction, not a scientific piece of research, and not...
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