Book Talk: The Birth of Acupuncture in America by Steven Rosenblatt and Keith Kirts
It's moving, truthful and refreshing to read.
— G. Canahan,The BookWalker
In 1968, Dr. Ju Gim Shek started his mission to introduce the ancient Chinese medical practice of acupuncture to the western world, an initiative that has grown to an estimated eighteen thousand licensed acupuncturists in the U.S. alone. Such an accomplishment began as a vision that was almost forgotten until chance presented itself when Dr. Ju met his future four students in California’s Chinatown.
The group were the most unlikely of students, especially from the perspective of an old Chinese. Still, while the UCLA students personified the “make love, not war” era, they also showed intelligence, passion, grit, and humor—all essential qualities that solidified their relationship with the Chinese doctor. Writing in his journal, Dr. Ju said the UCLA boys were odd, brash, and in desperate need of a haircut, but he felt good about them. They were serious about learning acupuncture, scribbling notes whenever he gave them lessons, hanging on to his halting English instructions, and practicing how to cast a needle even during their walks.
Raised in the Canton province of Southern China, the benevolent doctor learned traditional medicine not commonly known to those who hailed from Beijing but teaching the world about acupuncture, which was then a dwindling practice back in his homeland, was his goal.
The central idea of acupuncture is the study of energy in the human body. Energy is the life force that animates all living things, including all the functions of the body. When the energy in the body is altered, a disease is produced, but when energy is balanced and flowing, the body is healthy. As a form of energetic medicine, acupuncture aims to understand and manipulate the flow of energy in the body.
The birth of acupuncture in America did not always go smoothly. Dr. Ju was sent back to China for practicing without a license. The group was shaken to its core, but Dr. Ju had inspired and taught the boys well enough to carry on, this time with Dr. So, another Chinese doctor, and an acupuncturist, to guide them.
Authors Rosenblatt and Kirts did not only produce well-written literature about the rudiments of an ancient practice and provide the missing link about how acupuncture began in the Western Hemisphere but above all, they give honor to the man who envisioned a ripple that would produce a tidal wave to splashed into all corners of medicine. Given the in-depth nature of the book, it’s a relief that the authors veered from monotonous textbook material and, instead, turned the book into an informative conversation, the question-and-answer format of the first part reminiscent of The Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Chinese Medicine.
In conclusion, one can say the book is still part of the white crane’s ripple, an old Chinese man’s gift that has continuously touched lives around the world.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" What a great read! So much useful information, unfolding in an easy narrative conversational way, with Keith Kirts asking our questions in a back-and-forth with "the Doc" (Steven Rosenblatt, MD, PhD, and L.Ac). Here are all the questions you've ever wanted to ask, responded to with clarity, humility, great intelligence, and coming from lifelong hands-on experience. Everything you always wanted to know about the body's energetic pathways, the effects of food combinations on digestion, common herbs for non-drug healing, homeopathic and other modalities and their use, techniques for diagnosis, stories of patients and cures. All punctuated with drawings, charts, photos, and journal entries of Dr. Ju (first teacher who brought acupuncture to the U.S.--who taught Dr. Rosenblatt, who later founded the first acupuncture colleges in the US). For the first time we feel we are getting the straight unbiased story about our bodies--what helps, what doesn't--and in highly engaging story format that also offers Dr. Rosenblatt's journey in making energetic medicine accessible in the U.S. I highly recommend this book. Find the chapters that really speak to you, and enjoy!"
—Fran Shaw, Ph.D. Amazon Readers' Review, Verified Purchase
" A great story about the people and events that brought acupuncture to America."
—Michael Turk, Amazon Readers' Review, Verified Purchase
" If you've ever been treated by an acupuncturist and had the great results that i've had, then you'll want to read this book. It's a two-fold story of how this ancient Chinese healing method came to the West: first, a conversation between the writer and the expert, Dr Steven Rosenblatt, a highly trained MD who became the first licensed acupuncturist in California, which answers all of your questions; and, second, the journals of Dr Rosenblatt's Chinese teacher, who immigrated to the US with nothing but his knowledge of acupuncture and energetic medicine. The journals offer a glimpse into this wise man's Eastern worldview and his surprise at how acupuncture takes root in the West. A joy to read and a real education into the subtle realms of the body."
—Connie Zweig, Amazon Readers' Review, Verified Purchase
Review by Juliette Edwards
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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Steven Rosenblatt was a graduate student in physiological psychology at UCLA when he began to train in acupuncture and oriental medicine under Dr. Ju, Gim Shek in Los Angeles. After a two-year apprenticeship, he went to Hong Kong, where he graduated from the Hong Kong Acupuncture College as the first Western student of Dr. James Tin Yau So. On his return to Los Angeles, he organized and was the clinical director of the UCLA Acupuncture Research Project in UCLA’s Department of Anesthesiology, the first acupuncture clinic in a medical school in the USA. Dr. Rosenblatt brought Dr. So to this country to work on the UCLA clinic project for several years before moving to Boston, where they organized the James-Stevens Acupuncture Center, the first training program in the USA, which grew into today’s New England School of Acupuncture.