The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity Paperback – 1 Feb 1999
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Samuel Johnson once called the medical profession "the greatest benefit to mankind." In the 20th century, the quality of that benefit has improved more and more rapidly than at any other comparable time in history. With all the capabilities of modern medicine's practitioners, however, we as a people are as worried about our health as ever.
Roy Porter, a social historian of medicine at London's Wellcome Institute, has written a dauntingly thick history of how medical thinking and practice has risen to the challenges of disease through the centuries. But delve into its pages and you'll find one marvellous piece of history after another. The obvious highlights are touched upon--Hippocrates introduces his oath, Pasteur homogenises, Jonas Salk produces the polio vaccine and so on--but there's also Dr. Francis Willis' curing of the madness of King George III, W.T.G. Morton's aggressive use of ether in surgery and research on digestion conducted using a man with a stomach fistula (if you don't know what that means, you may not want to know). Porter is straightforward about his deliberate focus on Western medical traditions, citing their predominant influence on global medicine, and with The Greatest Benefit to Mankind he has produced a volume worthy of that tradition's legacy. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
‘A superb book – fluent, lucid, scary and even funny…essential reading.’ Sunday Times
‘Magnificently erudite and compellingly humane.’ New Statesman (Books of the Year)
‘Yet another compulsively readable, astonishingly encyclopaedic book from Roy Porter…his best to date: an epic, one-volume narrative history of man’s struggle with the infirmities of his body, from Aesculapius to AIDS.’ Simon Schama
‘Whether you are interested in the advent of the stethoscope, the history of yellow fever, the bubonic plague or, closer to home, coronary heart disease, the feminist influence on medicine, drug abuse, childbearing or cancer, this book provides the historic background to these and other medical questions…”The Greatest Benefit to Mankind” is a first-class introduction to medical history. Like a well constructed broadsheet leader, it excites thought and discussion, as well as providing many answers.’ The Times
‘Hypochondriac heaven – a gripping, scholarly, fact-packed, must-have book.’ Daily Mail
‘A monumental work… magnificent.’ Independent on SundaySee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is so interesting it hooks you into actually reading all of it. I have, so has my daughter and my best friend (also a nurse).
However, it is factually correct and written well enough to be deemed a suitable source for academic studies. So after reading it for pleasure I found it was a recommended course book for a module in my Health & Social Policy degree. My friend has also delved into it again for her Nursing Studies degree.
This is a book that you keep and visit now and again, not like other academic texts that you cannot wait to sell on the Marketplace.
This 850 pages book was his best and in it he poured all his wisdom to tell the full history of medicine.
It can be a rather dry subject to read by Mr Porter added a nice human touch to every story making it more interesting.
It covers from ancient history to moderm times ( early XXI century ) makes emphasis on the discoveries of the XIX century.
This volume will appeal to everyone ,even those without a medical background.
Regarding his writing, his research is always well founded, his style accessible and appealing. And yet he was never condescending, never dumbed history down. He expected his readers to be intellegent and trusted them to use their own judgement when confronted with new thoughts and theories.
I shall mourn his loss for many years. I shall also mourn the future works he may have produced.
I bought this book second hand and was very impressed with Fleet Bargain Books. The book arrived in good time, packaged well and was in the condition I expected.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is absolutelly fantastic. Full of great informations from every era and regions, and I was most pleased by the description of mediine in the 19th century because I have... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Lenka Kralikova
A simply brilliant book, full of useful information, easy to read. Very useful at anyone doing the history of medicinePublished 13 months ago by Richard T
Very dull book. I gave up very quickly. Someone I know who actually read it all said there were only two salient points which came across. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Wilf Trauma Spinach
how couldn't I like a book that is titled for me!
the book has an easy to read, pick up and put down style, full of interesting facts and data. Read more