top of page


Especially when one counts oneself as informed, it is a delight to be surprised and enriched by a new book.

John Lewis’s recent title, A. T. Still: From the Dry Bone to the Living Man, might suggest a stale retelling of the historically trite. Such is far from the truth. Once we are inside the cover the osteopathic reader recognizes the time and effort over fifteen years that the author has dedicated to giving an authoritative and fresh look at the early days of osteopathy and their pertinence to perennial questions relevant to our time. Studying Still’s life raises more questions about the potential of the profession as it recounts the past or explains our present constitution.

Zachary Comeaux DO (USA).


I haven’t been able to put it down. It tells a beautiful and warm story of A. T. Still’s life and gives me a better understanding of why Osteopathy, why him, why then. I hope it is the best seller it deserves to be.


Shivaun Riley DO (UK).

This is a beautiful and rare book. Beautiful, because each chapter is rich with its own story; rare, because every paragraph has been lovingly crafted and is immensely readable. I cannot imagine a more intriguing and interesting book under the category of ‘osteopathy.’ There is more to this book than the story of osteopathy; it describes a different paradigm for health. I have been reminded of the contribution osteopathy can make to modern healthcare and hope the book will become required reading within our profession.


Kirsty Macfarlane DO (UK).

This book joins a select few that in my opinion are a manifesto for twenty-first century osteopathy. The book challenged me to redouble my efforts to think, feel and practice. It is timely, as we face the utter dilution of the profession, at stake is our identity and the very soul of osteopathy.


Richard Metliss DO (Canada).

A. T Still: From the Dry Bone to the Living Man is a book I should have read so many years ago at the start of my training. No, I’ll re-phrase that –

this is a book that ought to be compulsory reading for all students embarking on that great journey of osteopathy. Oh to hell with the last sentence – this is a book that everyone ought to read whether they are an osteopath or interested in the work that we do!

The book is well written and hard to put down. I feel that John has put me back in touch with my osteopathic roots. The trickle of information on how osteopathy started becomes a flood of stories told in such a way as to make me, the reader, feel that I have been granted a valuable insight into the thoughts and feelings and motivation and PASSION of the Old Doctor.
John takes us through Still’s early life with all the challenges of an arduous subsistence life on the boundaries of the western frontiers of the USA. John doesn’t shy away from talking about the influences on A. T. Still’s beliefs - from the Methodism in which his family was immersed, to the Native Americans. The former gave him many doubts, but the latter instilled in him a deep respect for the harmony of nature, and the oneness and wonders that abound within nature. Still was deeply interested in Spiritualism and this belief gave him succour all through his life.

Although the profound insight of the beauty of God’s work in man came to Still in a flash, it seems that the concept of osteopathy was a long time developing. His fundamental mistrust of conventional medicine was, as we know, born of the personal tragedies of losing his three children to spinal meningitis.

As Still’s ideas grew it seemed that the early challenges to his system of healing came in treating the illnesses that were so rampant in the early 19th century – pneumonia, cholera, typhoid etc., and I really enjoyed learning about the scope of osteopathy in its early days. There were obviously many years of hardship when Still was ostracised for his ideas, and his family suffered with him. Gradually that recognition came and with it many challenges from a very threatened orthodox medical establishment. As success gradually came and Kirksville became the centre of the osteopathic world, Still started to teach and in that sowed the seed for the much harder battles that he had to fight as many sought to pirate and bastardise and dilute his teachings.

‘Keep it pure’ was his eternal saying, as even with the American School of Osteopathy at Kirksville he had to fight against the corrupting influence of medical teaching within his own school.

The Old Doctor gave so much, and we can only be thankful for all his wisdom and knowledge as we ourselves strive to find the breadth and potential of osteopathy. I often found myself thinking – ‘What would the Old Doctor think of the way we work and teach in the present time?’ No doubt he would have much good advice to give us, but I also think that without being big-headed, I feel that the Old Doctor would approve. We have much to learn about him and how he worked, but John has given us an amazing insight into the great man.

I am sure he is keeping an eye on us from somewhere. Get this book and read it. I doubt you will be disappointed!

Clive Hayden DO (UK)

bottom of page