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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Publisher: Pocket Books
Date of Publication: 2009
Binding: paper back
Edition:
Condition: Very Good
Description: ISBN 1847390004 : Used book; clean and bright with light reading wear, covers have a little wear and some light creases. Takes us on a tour of Bedlam and examines London's attitude to madness along the way.
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Bedlam: London and its Mad Paperback – 6 Aug 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (6 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847390005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847390004
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Everything you always wanted to know about perishing in London." --"Kirkus Reviews" on "Necropolis"

Review

elegrantly written and richly anecdotal study --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This has been hovering on my radar for a while and on my wishlist for months, so when I spotted it in the library I had to pick it up. It's a terrifying book but I am so glad to have read it. As the title suggests, it is predominantly a history of the Bethlehem asylum in London, soon contracted to 'Bedlam' in local slang and quickly fixing the term in our language as a byword for chaos.

Bedlam's history is a horrifying tale swimming with chains and straitjackets, ice baths and purging, bleeding and starvation, mania and despair. Arnold draws the reader through the years from Bedlam's conception, into different locations and grand buildings, through the reigns of monarch after monarch. Doctors and superintendents come and go, treatments fluctuate and metamorphose, knowledge grows and changes for the better... eventually. Through the sweep of Bedlam's history, Arnold has included the stories of some of the saddest, quirkiest and most notorious patients to haunt its cells, as well as extending her research to offer the reader a wider historical context and a broader look at the treatment of madness across the country. There is also an interesting chapter on mad women as a cultural construct, including a look at Miss Havisham and Bertha Mason as literary representations of contemporary stereotypes.

As a manic depressive, all I can say is, thank heavens I'm not living my life any time but now. Right up the mid-20th century, people suffering from mental illness have been 'treated' with a host of remedies from the ridiculous to the barbaric to, just occasionally, the hopeful and enlightened. I found this book by turns sad, wry, mind-boggling, thoughtful and plain horrific.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This disturbing and gripping book delves into the history of Bedlam. A place which has given it's very name to the dictionaries as meaning noisy and confused. The book follows the hospital's history from it's beginning as the Bethlehem hospital in 1247 to the relocation in the suburbs of Kent . A truly fascinating look at the early care of the mentally ill patient.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very readable book. However, I got the sense the author really rushed the last chapter and didnt really explain why the hospital moved to Kent in the early 20th century. Instead this last chapter was a rather rambling account of the author's opinion on modern psychiatric medicine. Also there were a couple of historical inaccuracies. An example of this is when the author talks about Moss Side Military Hospital. The author makes the error of assuming this hospital was located in Moss Side in Manchester. This is incorrect, Moss Side Hospital was located at Moss Side in Maghull which is just outside of Liverpool. This makes the reader wonder what else is incorrect in the book? However, a very entertaining read with great use of illustrations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book does have a large ambition as other reviewers have stated. It was a very interesting novel though I found Necropolis by the author a much more interesting read and put together in a more interesting way. My main difficulty with this text was perhaps that the cases referred to on the back cover were covered in no real depth in the text itself. There were brief references to individual cases and miscarriages of justice and more detail spent on the doctors that governed the institution itself as well as the architecture of the different locations for Bedlam.

For those interested in the history of this period it is a good read, even with the context of the book in the details surrounding Bedlam at this time.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I've sent this back for a refund as it's missing the images from the printed version. Where an image should appear, the words "Image Not Available" appear.

As far as the content goes, I found the book (what I read of it before getting annoyed by the lack of images)quite readable, but with too many "might haves" in it. For example, Shakespeare "may have" been inspired by a visit to Bedlam. Anne Boleyn "may well have" taken a walk in the grounds. It's all pure speculation, and while I understand it's an attempt to contextualise the time frames being written about, I found this unfounded guesswork quite irritating.

Anyway, like I said, my main issue is specifically with the Kindle edition. It's more expensive than the print edition, yet is missing all of the images. It might seem like a minor fault, but this should be pointed out before people buy the product. Frankly, I refuse to pay more for less.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book, I bought it second hand the book came in band new condition which is also awesome. I would definitely recommend this book to any history buffs out there. Very informative without being too dense.
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Format: Paperback
I found this a thoughtful history of the treatment of those considered mad by society. It was given structure by focusing on London and its most famous asylum.
It did a grand job of packing a lot into a relatively small volume. We read about social norms, politics, philosophy and medicine and how each impacted on the work of the asylum. Of course the case histories of some of the inmates are the most moving and informative parts of the book, but the author manages not to sensationalise or sentimentalise them.
She is also not too judgemental about the past treatments of residents. Each era is set in the context of attitudes and medical practice of the time.The last chapter could have said more, as sadly mental health services are not in a state of improvement, but maybe this was outside the remit of this particular book.
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