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Samuel Tarnopolsky

TARNOPOLSKY, SAMUEL (1908– ), Argentinean physician, historian, and novelist. Born in the town of Bernasconi, province of La Pampa, to Russian immigrants, Tarnopolsky studied medicine in Buenos Aires, becoming a professor of rheumatology and founder of the Argentine Society for the Study of Rheumatology. He was listed by the World Health Organization as one of the world's best rheumatologists. The author of numerous medical textbooks, including Reumatismo y Enfermedades Relacionadas ("Rheumatism and Related Diseases," 1950), Tarnopolsky expanded the conventional borders of his discipline by writing several books on the indigenous medicines (and medicine men) of his native province, most prominently in Los Curanderos, Mis Colegas ("The Witch Doctors, My Colleagues," 1994).

Tarnopolsky's identification with the rural, gaucho roots of Argentinean history resulted in several texts on the war between Spanish conquistadores and the Pampa Indian tribe, the prologue to Dionisio Schoo Lastra's groundbreaking book El Indio del Desierto ("The Indian of the Desert," 1928), the fictionalized stories Alarma de Indios en la Frontera SudEpisodios de la Conquista del Desierto ("Indian Alarm on the Southern Frontier: Episodes from the Conquest of the Desert," 1952), and La Rastrillada de Salinas Grandes ("The Path of Salinas Grandes," 1944) garnered him the first invitation presented to any Jew to address the Círculo Militar, Argentina's military academy.

He dedicated his intellectual output to the three peoples who shared his loyalty: the Spanish conquerors, whose prowess he admired, the Pampa Indians whom he revered, and the Jewish nation, to which he belonged. He wrote a prize-winning study Indios pampas y conquistadores del desierto en la novela ("Pampa Indians and Conquerors as Literary Figures," 1996), and numerous works relating to Jewish life in Argentina, including a study of antisemitism among the Argentinean elites and intellectuals, Los Prejuiciados de Honrada Conciencia, ("The High-Minded Bigots," 1971), an essay titled Nosotros, los judios que colonizamos el desierto Pampa ("We, the Jews who Conquered the Pampa Desert," 1992), and the novel for which he is best known, La Mitad De Nada ("Half of Naught," 1969), a meditation on the predicament of young urban Jews in the 1960s Buenos Aires.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.