Customer Reviews for

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (The Norton History of Science)

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  • Posted June 19, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Remeber the days of pulverised crocodile dung... During my time

    Remeber the days of pulverised crocodile dung...

    During my time studying medicine I constantly found myself skipping between books, unable to locate all the historical information I was seeking in one volume. Would that I had "The Greatest Benefit to Mankind" back then! It seems that Roy Porter's students had the same issue which is what inspired the teacher-turned-author to write this book.


    Porter's historical account of medicine and healing is fascinating and delves deep to reveal how people's attitudes toward medicine has changed over the years, including the big breakthroughs. While the book covers a global history, it is primarily European - which is explained by the fact that "Western medicine has developed in ways which made it uniquely powerful and... uniquely global." Sounds a bit like the power of imperialism...


    The book is a refreshing read and is certainly anything but boring. His tone is comical, engaging, enlightening, and that of a lecturer all at once. Porter has structured his work perfectly and the chapter titles give you the option to quickly look up what you need to know if you're in a hurry. Perfect if you're a student! If you are simply interested in medical history this is a must-read, but be sure to also look at Sexuality: An Illustrated History.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    A great book on the history of medicine

    Porter's book "The Greatest Benefit to Mankind" is a great resource for understanding medical history. It places famous historical actors in their contexts, and it explains generally trends expertly. This is the kind of book that it's good to take notes while reading, especially if you don't know most of the names beforehand. However, it has helped me more than any other medical history in understanding how medicine changed, what role historical actors had in that change, and where the medicine of today came from. I highly recommend to anyone interested in the subject.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    The best history of medicine and will remain significant for a long time

    This is a well-written book with little bits of humor to make it especially enjoyable. It is a full history of western medicine and tells also of the traditions of China and India. The author offers some comment about the situation of medicine in society at this time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    Amazingly thorough

    This books got it all in the history of medicine. I ended up reading it like a text book also gathering the facts that I associated with not-so common knowledge. I also found it easier to read while reading other books, I couldn't focus all of my attention on it because it's so thorough it's prosaic at times. As with the earlier review(s) the book is better used for it's early chapters than it's synopsis of contemporary medicine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

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