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By JOHN FREEMAN  |  December 28, 2006

Boston-area medical students will have their hands full with two terrific new volumes about doctoring. JEROME GROOPMAN is bringing out his most essential book yet, How Doctors Think (Houghton Mifflin, March 19). PAULINE CHEN’s Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality (Knopf, January 9) might reassure those going under the knife.

Literature buffs will have plenty to chew on when CLAIRE TOMALIN gives a difficult author a new spin in Thomas Hardy (Penguin Press, January 18). In The First Man-Made Man (Bloomsbury, March 6), PAGAN KENNEDY tells the story of Michael Dillon, the female-to-male transgender who went on to write Roberta Cowell’s Story. MADISON SMARTT BELL has made good use of the research for his recent trilogy of novels by writing Toussaint Louverture: A Biography (Pantheon, January 17).

In the perpetually embattled memoir genre, ROBERT STONE leads the year with Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties (Ecco, January 1); that’s followed by Wish I Could Be There (Viking, February 1), the memoir of ALLEN SHAWN (son of legendary New Yorker editor William), who suffers from agoraphobia and claustrophobia. And in Palestine: A Personal History (Grove, February 28), part-Arab/part-English writer KARL SABBAGH attempts to unravel the riddle of his family’s history and the country they came from.

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