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The Primeval Forest

'The Primeval Forest' cover image

The Primeval Forest

"There, in this sorry world of ours, goes a great man."—Albert Einstein, on Albert Schweitzer

In July of 1913, thirty-eight-year-old medical doctor Albert Schweitzer gave up his position as a respected professor at the University of Strasbourg and celebrated authority on music and philosophy in order to go as a physician to French Equatorial Africa (present-day Gabon). The Primeval Forest is Schweitzer's own fascinating story of these eventful years—a thrilling tale of his amazingly successful attempt to practice modern medicine and surgery in the face of wild elephant raids, marauding leopards, famine, an flood—a story rich in human interest and high drama.

Schweitzer describes how he and his wife, a qualified nurse, worked to establish a hospital in the steaming jungle at Lambaréné. At first they treated patients in the open air, amid unbelievably primitive conditions—with few drugs, medicines, or adequate instruments. But they worked tirelessly, caring for as many as forty cases a day, battling the misery caused by sleeping sickness, leprosy, pestilence, and plague. And, as the years went on, they gradually built a more permanent hospital to alleviate the terrible suffering of the Congo people.