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The Sick Rose: Or; Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration [Hardcover]

Richard Barnett
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.95
Price: 13.57 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 Jun 2014
The Sick Rose is a beautifully gruesome and strangely fascinating visual tour through disease in an age before colour photography. This stunning volume, combining detailed illustrations of afflicted patients from some of the worlds rarest medical books, forms an unforgettable and profoundly human reminder of mankinds struggle with disease. Incorporating historic maps, pioneering charts and contemporary case notes, Richard Barnetts evocative overview reveals the fears and obsessions of an era gripped by epidemics.

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The Sick Rose: Or; Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration + Medical London: City of Diseases, City of Cures
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd (2 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500517347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500517345
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 17.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Barnett studied medicine in London before becoming a historian. He has taught the history of science, medicine and evolutionary theory at the universities of Cambridge and London, and in 2011 received one of the first Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowships. His writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, the Lancet, Strange Attractor, and the Natural Death Handbook (fifth edition). His first book, 'Medical London: City of Diseases, City of Cures', was published in 2008, and was a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4, and 'The Dedalus Book of Gin' (published in the US by Grove Atlantic) is out now. His new book - 'The Sick Rose', on art and anatomy in an age of revolution - is published by Thames & Hudson in the UK and DAP in the US. He received the 2006 Promis Prize for poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2013 Poetry Business prize. He edits the Sick City Project blog (sickcityproject.wordpress.com) and is on Twitter @doctorbarnett.

Product Description


The Sick Rose is a transfixing, sublime collection of portraits of the highest art. They show the dying in a way that teaches us about life and all the good things in it. They are life studies. --The Times, Helen Rumbelow

The strange, symbiotic relationship between medicine and social oppression is here given full-colour form: not only by anatomical illustrations of paupers' and criminals' corpses, but also by what - were they not so disfigured - would be regarded as straightforward portraits of the leprous and the syphilitic, the tubercular and the cancerous ... Richard Barnett's superbly erudite and lucid accompanying text would really suffice in itself as an introduction to the history of western medical science. --The Guardian, Will Self

[A] trove of extraordinary illustrations. --The Independent

appalling, if brilliantly rendered ... A fascinating book, albeit only for those with strong stomachs. --Nature

A fascinating, gruesome look at how the medical profession depicted afflictions before colour photography. --The Big Issue

An enlightening if squirm-inducing insight into the early days of modern medicine ... strangely fascinating ... the squeamish should beware the venereal diseases section, which is particularly enlightening ... a thoughtful history that bestows a certain dignity to these unfortunate men, women and children who left us with valuable insight into the world of sickness. --AnotherMag.com

Morbidly fascinating. --The Bookseller

A fascinating yet gruesome tour through disease as depicted in the age before colour photography. --International Business Times

A strangely fascinating, often gruesome visual tour. --Focus

Gripping - and occasionally a wee bit stomach-churning ... lucid and knowledgeable ... [the] writing is as vivid as the illustrations. --Fortean Times

If you're able to detach yourself from the knee-jerk reaction of: 'Oh my f**king god what's wrong with that dude's face?', these illustrations are really neat to look at. --Vice.com

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 10 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this on a whim as I've got an interest in older medical illustration. I am thoroughly pleased with the book. The illustrations are all of really good quality and shows the progression of a large number of illnesses and conditions that with the advent of modern medicine are no longer seen in medical practice (well, at least I hope they're not). I personally think this is a fantastic coffee table book, my girlfriend on the other hand disagrees. Apparently, it may put some people off their biscuits.....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Satiates a morbid fascination of disease 6 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Easy to read and understand. Fascinating facts on the Victorian take on various diseases such as Leprosy, Cancer and Cholera. The art is taken from scientific drawings and brings together some interesting and sometimes pretty gruesome diseases. I've been reading this from page to page and I've really enjoyed it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 5 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For the price, excellent. Fascinating for all those interested in the hx of medicine - how lucky we are
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4.0 out of 5 stars Design Disaster 21 Jun 2014
The images in the book are well chosen and printed; it's great that the illustrations include some excellent non-Western examples. The written aspects are involving and knowledgeable - as you'd expect from T&H - and the physical 'feel' of the book is satisfying. Overall, it's a good portrayal of a fascinating genre that has been superseded by photographic and digital processes. It's a shame, then, that the design of the book is so intrusive and insensitive, a completely indulgent riot of harsh black grids that interrupt the flow of the text and overwhelm the delicacy and sympathetic qualities of the imagery. I tend to buy books for their content and aspects of design usually remain secondary, but the self-indulgence and irrelevance that the designer has brought to 'The Sick Rose' come close to ruining the overall experience of the book. This is unlike T&H, whose books usually combine contemporary design with sympathy for the subject. It's a mess, frankly, in which the extraordinary imagery just about holds its own.
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