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The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity [Anglais] [Broché]

Roy Porter

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THESE ARE STRANGE TIMES, when we are healthier than ever but more anxious about our health. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index
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Amazon.com: 3.8 étoiles sur 5  26 commentaires
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Superb Medical History in One Volume 3 août 1998
Par David Graham - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Until recently, when asked by his students for an up-to-date, readable, one-volume history of medicine, Roy Porter was at a loss of what to recommend. He therefore decided to bridge the gap, so to speak, and undertake this momentous task himself. In so far as it is possible for someone to adequately accomplish this Herculean task of being both comprehensive and somewhat concise (the material is indeed covered in one volume, though 831 pages long), Roy Porter has succeeded.
Porter has an eye for the unusual, spicing up his reporting with examples of odd concoctions and practices used for various maladies down through the ages, such as the use of pulverized crocodile dung, various herbs, and honey as a contraceptive pessary among the ancient Egyptians, or the English resistance against legal revisions (including town sewer reform among other things) attempting to fight cholera in the 19th century: "We prefer to take our chances with cholera and the rest rath! er than be bullied into health," reported THE TIMES. Most refreshingly, he is not timid in rendering pronouncements for both good and ill on the medical profession, bringing a candor needed to assess the impact of medicine down through the ages. He is thorough without being tedious, educational without being pedantic, and has a fine eye for comedy without being flippant.
As someone with an interest in history and by vocation a surgeon, I found Roy Porter's book a delightfully instructive volume to read. I look forward to returning to peruse it many times in the years ahead.
38 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 More a European History 8 janvier 2001
Par A. Woodley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This is the second review of three I have done of socio-medical histories written of edited by Roy Porter (you can read the others on my reivew page). I read and compared this to The "Cambridge Illustrated History: Medicine", and "Gout, the Patrician Maladay". I thought this was the best approach as people might be like me, looking for a reference work to buy and trying to toss up between which one to get and what the advantages and disadvantages of one over another.
In terms of content I think this is the more comprehensive of the two general reference works. It is over twice the length of Cambridge (over 800 pages in this one compared to not quite 400). It also doesn't have pages taken up with illustrations as Cambridge does. That is probably the thing I like least about this book, there are only three small sections in the middle with some black and white pictures reproduced - I think on comparison I do prefer the slightly more expensive version of having pictures on the pages I am reading for this kind of reference work.
The book is divided into 22 chapters which follow the rise of Western medicine more or less chronologically. There are also chapters included on Chinese and Indian Medicine, but expect the emphasis to be European in both history and development. Each chapter is divided into specific topics which are discussed a structure I quite enjoyed as it broke up the text and made it more readable.
I looked up some specific subjects to compare this with the Cambrige work and in each case (among them Purperal fever, Galen, Resurrectionists) this book had far more detailed and comprehensive explanations, often citing broad statistics. However writing the a social and medical history of mankind is difficult to do full justice even in 800-some pages. It does give a slightly provide more detail but I wasn't really sure that the slightly greater detail was that much of an advantage to make up for the loss of illustration. In the end this is still only slightly more detail on broad trends rather than in-depth discussion. He does cover some people and subjects not dealt with in "Cambridge" including people like Dr James Barry, the first female surgeon (although she was masquerading as a man at the time) - but of course the space available doesn't allow Porter to discuss any of her other significant work as, in terms of forwarding the field of medicine, she was not earth-shattering.
Porter has a very good-natured and readable style of writing though and I really enjoyed it. He breaks this chapters up into short sections and interspeses them with rather nice jokes for instance on page 129 he writes of 'Trotula'said to be a female of 12th century medical school in Salerno but says " 'Dame Trot' was more likely a male writing in drag."
So while I very much enjoyed the book and would certainly have no qualms in recommending it to read at all, I do hold some reservations about it - but strictly in comparison with what else is available.
31 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A landmark for historical writing 18 juillet 2000
Par Ryan Johnson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book delievers what it was written to deliever. It wasn't meant to be a brain candy, witty, clever, majestic, novel that makes the common person rush out to apply to medical school. It is going to seem "boring" if you don't want to LEARN about THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE. An excellent book preceding this to read would be "Guns, Germs, and Steel," by Jared Diamond to put things in a solid historical reality. This book is five stars, but be ready to engage yourself with the text, buy a highlighter if it helps you concentrate, go back to college, pretend you need to get an A in the History of Western Medicine, because you will have an A+ perspective on medicine if you keep the correct perspective regarding this book.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Remeber the days of pulverised crocodile dung... 15 mai 2014
Par Mark Graham - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
During my time studying medicine I constantly found myself skipping between books, unable to locate all the historical information I was seeking in one volume. Would that I had "The Greatest Benefit to Mankind" back then! It seems that Roy Porter's students had the same issue which is what inspired the teacher-turned-author to write this book.

Porter's historical account of medicine and healing is fascinating and delves deep to reveal how people's attitudes toward medicine has changed over the years, including the big breakthroughs. While the book covers a global history, it is primarily European - which is explained by the fact that "Western medicine has developed in ways which made it uniquely powerful and... uniquely global." Sounds a bit like the power of imperialism...

The book is a refreshing read and is certainly anything but boring. His tone is comical, engaging, enlightening, and that of a lecturer all at once. Porter has structured his work perfectly and the chapter titles give you the option to quickly look up what you need to know if you're in a hurry. Perfect if you're a student! If you are simply interested in medical history this is a must-read, but be sure to also look at Sexuality: An Illustrated History.
14 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent on details but understandably short on conclusion 24 septembre 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I found Mr. Porter's excellent history enlightening, and sufficiently engrossing so that I could recommend it even to my nonmedical friends. I enjoyed every chapter and feel that I gained a new perspective on my chosen profession. I don't feel that Mr. Porter completely answered my own most nagging question about what I do, namely, why do people who distrust me and other physicians (or, As Mr. Porter calls us, members of the medical-industrial complex) and yet believe everything alternative therapists tell them? He spoke about the cognitive aspects of this question, but not the emotional ones. Why, as an ER physician, do I hear "I hate doctors" as the introductory remark for a large percentage of my histories? People fear us and not their chiropractors. It is not just a consumer issue, aggravated by the profession's chronic obsession with paternalistic authority over 'the patient', nor is it due to higher expectations from privileged, well-educated and demanding clients. Mr. Porter's analysis was good, but does not address the gut-level fear of people facing the medical profession of today.
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