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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Swailem S. Hennein, Ph.D.(University of Illinois at Chicago)
Description: This book is an open-ended comparative study of medieval medical Anglo-Saxon documents that aims to present a judicial assessment of indigenous conditions having to do with issues of availability, organization, diagnosis, specializations, medications, and efficacy and how these relate to Greek/Roman medical theories and structures. A sizable part of the volume deals with sources of information, both in Old English (the Anglo-Saxon vernacular) and Latin, including "the earliest notices ofmedical practice."
Purpose: The main finding of this effort is that, although admitting that Anglo-Saxon medicine borrowed from Galen and Hippocrates and from various parts of the Mediterranean basin, it had its own original features and contributions that were substantially rational, empirical, and deductive, and not merely magical.
Audience: This monograph addresses primarily students of medical history.
Features: Information presented on the health conditions prevailing in Anglo-Saxon lands during the medieval period corresponds well with what we know about the Continent, providing a backdrop against which medical practice is ably reviewed. The author does point to misconceptions that have been circulated about that era and provides evidence of fundamental, though incomplete and perhaps unscientific, understanding of physiology, nutrition, course of diseases, kinds of prognoses, and humane treatment protocols that existed.
Assessment: This book does not, in any sense, assume to be the final word on the subject, and the scientific investigator is invited to start with the documents featured by the author to move further with the search. This is an honest piece of scholarly production that addresses a gap in the history of medicine.