Noah Gordon is best known for his trilogy about the fictional medical dynasty of the Cole family. The first novel in this series, The Physician, is set in the 11th century, and tells the story of Rob Cole, a Christian English boy who journeys across Europe in order to study medicine among the Persians. Initially published by Simon & Schuster in 1986, the book didn’t sell well in the United States. In Europe, however, it became a major bestseller, particularly in Spain and Germany. This success instigated a follow-up,Shaman (1992), which is set in mid-19th century America, and deals with the encounter of European immigrants with Native Americans. For this second novel, Gordon received the inaugural James Fenimore Cooper Prize for the best Historical American fiction. The series was concluded with Matters of Choice (1995), which is about modern-day pyhsician Dr. Roberta J. Cole from Massachusetts, a descendant of the protagonists of the previous books.
Shown here are the first German editions, published by Droemer Knaur (hardback) and Knaur (paperback) as Der Medicus (1987/1990), Der Schamane (1992/1995), and Die Erben des Medicus (1995/1997). Each of the three books headed the national bestseller lists for several months. Millions of copies have been sold, and to this date, the books are a staple in second-hand bookstores across Germany. The distinctive jackets with the red initials were designed by Agentur ZERO, Munich. The cover illustration for Der Schamane is by Josef Fladerer. When I think of ITC Garamond, my first association is the original Apple Macintosh logo. For ITC Garamond Italic, though, it’s Der Medicus.
Noah Gordon died this week at the age of 95. Rest in peace.