This is a history of hospitals and hospital care, for which the author has obviously read widely, from the earliest times when there was always an association between spiritual faith and physical healing, and when all medical history was at once a combination of science and superstition. The pre-Christian civilizations of Sumer and Babylon put into use many herbs and chemicals, instituted hygienic measures; the Egyptian healing temples, and priest physicians, and later the Greek, showed an awareness of the causes of disease later known as psychosomatic; and while there is conflicting and vague evidence of medical care in early Rome, the Arabs were the first to perfect the hospital--and the Christian contribution would be loving care, in the Monastic hospitals. Declining and deteriorating from 1800 to 1850- the hospital, identified with poverty and death, was the last station on the road to the grave until the work of Florence Nightingale, Pasteur, Lister and Koch enabled new reforms and new techniques. Other famous figures- and patrons- cross the pages here; Elizabeth of Hungary, Vincent de Paul, Elizabeth Fry; hospital care is broadened, patients attitudes revised, and in closing chapters we see the hospital of today, preview the changes still to come... The author's work is based on considerable study, care and concern and it is handled with sobriety. A general audience might find it staid.