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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Ann Kuckelman Cobb, RN, PhD (University of Kansas School of Nursing)
Description: This book is a second edition of a history of nursing that emphasizes the art of nursing through lavish color illustrations of works of art. It appears 10 years after the first edition, with two new chapters focusing on healthcare reform and global issues in nursing. The 11 chapters cover the origins of nursing in "primitive" cultures, through ancient civilizations to the present.
Purpose: The author articulates both an historical and an esthetic aim. Although nursing is both art and science, the emphasis has been on science. The author intends to redress this imbalance by calling attention to the creative and the imaginative in the role of the nurse as it has evolved over time. The book is meant as a supplement to both art courses and nursing courses.
Audience: The intended audience is not only nurses, but "all lovers of art." Because it is oversize, glossy, and expensive, it is impractical as a nursing history textbook. It is more in the genre of the art history text or the gift book. The author has taught history of nursing courses since 1973 and is currently working on a biography of Isabel Maitland Stewart, an early 20th century nursing leader.
Features: This second edition contains some new art selections and others have been eliminated. References, bibliography, and a list of plates appear at the back of the text. Especially helpful are the informative timelines at the beginning of each chapter, identifying changes in daily life, science and technology, the visual arts, medicine and health care, and nursing, for the time period covered in that chapter.
Assessment: This book is a visual feast beautifully produced, with a pleasing balance between text and illustrations. The addition of the two final chapters and the selection of new art work enhances both the historical and visual content. The historiography is straightforward and without interpretive frame.