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A Brief History of Medicine

Paperback original The foundations for the scientific study of the body and modern Western medicine as we know it started with William Harvey's discovery of the circulatory system in the early 17th century. But its roots stretch back into Ancient Greece, when medicine first departed from the divine and the mystical and moved toward observation and logic. Real progress was a long time coming, held back by the taboo around dissection - only external symptoms could be used for diagnosis - as well as superstition and mysticism (illness was the work of demons and pixies and curable only by penitence). Paul Strathern steers us skilfully through the maze of discoveries, diseases and wrong turns that have made medicine what it is today - super-efficient, high tech and increasingly costly. Includes: Inspired geniuses, such as Paracelsus, the father of medical chemistry, and Edward Jenner, who discovered the smallpox vaccination; Cuthroat competition, as during the 'Gas Wars' over who'd invented the anaesthetic, Scientific endeavour, such as the discovery of X-rays; Mistakes both fortunate and fatal, Anatomy, grave robbing, plague and germ theory, vaccination, quackery, nursing and syphilis, microorganisms, penicillin and much more. This is the ultimate story of human - and humane - achievement.
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From Hippocrates to gene therapy, bloodletting to DNA

About the Author

Paul Strathern was born in London in 1940. He studied physics, chemistry and maths at Trinity College, Dublin, before switching to philosophy. He is the author of several novels, including A Season in Abbyssinia, which won a Somerset Maugham prize, and two highly successful series of short introductory books, Philosophers in 90 Minutes and The Big Idea: Scientists Who Changed the World. His most recent books include Mendeleyev's Dream, which was shortlisted for the Aventis Science Book Prize in 2001, Dr. Strangelove's Game: A History of Economic Genius and The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance.


" 'Witty, illuminating, and blessedly concise.' Wall Street Journal 'A wonderfully entertaining and stimulating journey from alchemy to chemistry in search of the elements of our universe.' Jim Crace on Mendeleyev's Dream"

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