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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: S. Edwards Dismuke, MD, MPH (University of Kansas School of Medicine)
Description: This third edition book of 36 short essays on the history of medicine and public health in America follows the second edition by 12 years.
Purpose: Its purpose is to present a broad and updated version of its last edition. Because of a rapidly expanding field with multiple new publications and widening health concerns of the general population, the book is a timely addition to American healthcare history.
Audience: Although not stated explicitly, the book is apparently designed as an introductory reader for basic courses in the history of American medicine and public health. In fact, the book should find a broad general readership ranging from historians to health science profession to lay readers who wish to be more informed and less "in awe" of American healthcare.
Features: Although pictures, graphs and figures are somewhat limited, this 600-page book is well referenced and includes a 10 page guide to further reading that is divided into general and topical subjects. The book includes an 8-page historical overview of health and sickness in America, 14 sections with brief introductions, and 36 readings prepared by 35 highly reputable authors.
Assessment: In this time of rapid and significant change in American healthcare, it is important to place our period in historical perspective. This book provides such a perspective and does so in a most entertaining way. This third edition is significantly updated from its predecessor. Twenty-one of the 36 essays have been replaced and 5 new clusters of essays have been added. The overview includes new data from the 1980s and 1990s. No standardized format is followed and each essay has its strengths and weaknesses. Overall, this work is an excellent overview that makes for interesting reading.