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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Lisa A Ennis, MA, MS (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Description: Written by Roberta Bivins, Wellcome Lecturer in the History of Medicine at Cardiff University, this is a fascinating examination of the historical arguments for and against alternative medicine as well as the methods and means of the transmission of medical knowledge between cultures.
Purpose: Drawing from her own childhood experiences as inspiration, the author skillfully explores the "processes of medical and historical change through the eyes of the medical professionals and consumers of the day," from the seventeenth into the twentieth century. The author's adept use of primary resources and extended quotes and examples allows her to show how alternative medical techniques and ideas traveled from culture to culture as well as to delve into the reactions and motivations of both medical professionals and consumers. The work fills a void in medical and social history by not only examining alternative medicine but by examining it within social and cultural spheres.
Audience: The author's work is scholarly both in content and structure while being accessible to both professional historians and students. With such a timely topic and such a well researched and written work, the quality of the scholarship should not be a barrier.
Features: Organized into six lengthy chapters as well as an in-depth annotated further reading section, the book covers both the mainstream and alternative medical worlds of Western Europe, China, and India. Peppered throughout are 24 illustrations, beginning with one from 1503 and ending with an advertisement from 1909.
Assessment: This well written and painstakingly researched book would enhance any history of medicine collection.