HEALTH AND SOCIETY: A Documentary History of Medicine by John P. & William N. Adams-Smith Dolan

HEALTH AND SOCIETY: A Documentary History of Medicine

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This potpourri of medical history is hasty pudding indeed. The authors offer bits and pieces of writings from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other ancient civilizations, move on to the Dark Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and 19th and 20th centuries. The selection leaves much to be desired. Lengthy segments of obscure descriptions and nostrums vie with chunks of Aristotle or Hippocrates, Swift or Oliver Wendell Holmes. It is very difficult to sense pattern and dffection. Gratuitous statements such as ""During the late ninth century, a peculiar type of social organization had developed that was known as feudalism"" are parallel with technical medical references which will be lost to the general reader. (Who knows from ""fauvus,"" ""podagra""?) The authors seem knowledgeable enough. Dolan is Professor of History and Public Health at the University of South Carolina, and Smith is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Morphology and Experimental Pathology at Kuwait University (yes, Kuwait). But they badly need to weed their index cards, curb their sentence overload (dates, titles, dynasties), and purge all the following: ""reached its zenith,"" ""monumental,"" ""milestone,"" ""landmark."" It was a nice idea to try to span the civilizations in a slim survey. But a survey is good only if the reader comes away with a coherent perspective. Here too many landmarks obscure the terrain.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1978
Publisher: Seabury