Review by John Riddington Young
North Devon, UK
This is an extraordinary book. When it arrived in my post box, I certainly didn’t like it. When I opened the packet, it was big, heavy and very glitzy. My first thoughts were ‘coffee table book’, so I took it through to look at it, while I drank my morning coffee. The illustrations are excellent; beautifully presented and lots of them. I thought that here there was a definite resonance with Leni Riefenstahl. After having read a chapter (and looked at lots of top grade photography) almost every following morning with my coffee, I really began to like it. I had been told that it was a history of surgery book. It isn’t really; it is a biography of a very remarkable lady, Frau Sybill Storz, and her family’s part in the history of endoscopes. Sybill is the daughter of the legendary Karl Storz, and so her intriguing life story includes the history of how her father, the grandson of a surgical instrument maker in Southern Germany, grew to be the most renowned endoscope manufacturer in the world. It also tells of her vision for the future of endoscopy.
The book is written in ‘German English’ (which for some reason, I find much easier to read than Transatlantic English) by a Stuttgart journalist. It is a very personal (interview-style) look at Frau Storz, who is now the ‘materfamilias’ of the company, and a highly intelligent and very talented entrepreneur. (I am sure she would hate to be described as an ‘entrepreneuse’; her outspoken anti-feminism was one of the things that immediately attracted me to her.)
If you are looking for a book on the complete history of endoscopy, you could be disappointed. However, after my initial pessimism, I enjoyed it immensely and found it a fascinating insight into an exceptionally clear-minded, strong-willed, stylish and very Teutonic character. Indeed, it made me want to meet her personally.