A CHANGE OF AIR: Climate and Health by William A. R. Thomson

A CHANGE OF AIR: Climate and Health

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An unmistakable air of gentility and nostalgia for a time when ""the labourer was worthy of his hire"" and package tours had not yet become ""one of the ugliest faces of modern democracy"" flavors this discourse on climate and health. Indeed, setting out with Dr. Thomson (compiler of Black's Medical Dictionary, former Medical Correspondent of the London Times), one feels plunged back into the era of travel-and-nature books with their talk of ""bracing"" versus ""relaxing"" climes, quotes from the ancients, and from the diaries of upper-class Britishers as they first discovered the virtues of spas, of wintering in Cannes, the Canaries, or Capetown. But the good doctor is a reliable reporter, and his asperity and skepticism on some contemporary enthusiasms serve him well in summarizing the issues and complexities concerning meteorology and health. He reports cautiously but respectfully on the findings of positive air ions in association with the mistral and other winds ""of ill repute""; he notes the effect of cold, dampness, and barometric stresses on cardiac and arthritic patients; and he discusses other correlations in the case of migraine, asthma, cancer, aging, etc. (each of which has a chapter to itself). Included, too, are discussions of weather and mental states; here, interestingly, he finds little evidence of an association between a full moon and madness. Thomson also has sound advice, moreover, on choosing places for retirement and on avoiding stress in traveling. Gems like the origin of the topi, the obligatory headgear of the British in the tropics, or a new name for one of those ill winds--the ""Xlokk"" of Malta--are delightful bonuses in this anomalously archaic/modern popularization.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Scribners