Tuberculosis was the most common cause of death in the United States during the nineteenth century. The lingering illness devastated the lives of patients and families, and by the turn of the century, fears of infectiousness compounded their anguish. Historians have usually focused on the changing medical knowledge of tuberculosis or on the social campaigns to combat it.
Using a wide range of sources, especially the extensive correspondence of a Philadelphia physician, Lawrence F. Flick, in Bargaining for Life Barbara Bates documents the human story by chronicling how men and women attempted to cope with the illness, get treatment, earn their living, and maintain social relationships.
About the Author
Barbara Bates (1928-2002) was a physician who studied history at the University of Kansas and the University of Pennsylvania, where she taught internal medicine and nursing. She developed and wrote a guide to patient history taking that has become the standard text for medical students.