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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Robert L. Martensen, MD, PhD (University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: Using 12 clinical episodes, this is the story of the hospital in Western culture from ancient Greece through the Enlightenment to the high-tech hospital and ambulatory clinics of the late 20th century.
Purpose: The world of historical meanings associated with hospital life and patients is explicated through the exploration of continuity and change in the mission and practice of hospitals in key areas of social role, therapeutics, and professional and patient space.
Audience: Physicians, nurses, hospital administrative staff, and historians are the intended audience.
Features: Using the device of patient experience (often extended) to introduce each of the book's 12 chapters distinguishes this book from other histories of the hospital. This is history with a patient's voice, which makes it possible for contemporary readers to recover a sense of past meanings for patients and providers in hospital settings.
Assessment: This book, carefully documented and replete with important detail, will be the standard reference for the "long history" of the Western hospital. It belongs on the shelf with other excellent works that have focused on 19th and 20th century hospitals, notably Rosenberg's The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America's Hospital System (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995) and Stevens' In Sickness and in Wealth: American Hospitals in the Twentieth Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).