In this lively, learned, and wholly engrossing volume, F. González-Crussi presents a brief yet authoritative five-hundred-year history of the science, the philosophy, and the controversies of modern medicine. While this illuminating work mainly explores Western medicine over the past five centuries, González-Crussi also describes how modern medicine’s roots extend to both Greco-Roman antiquity and Eastern medical traditions.
Covered here in engaging detail are the birth of anatomy and the practice of dissections; the transformation of surgery from a gruesome art to a sophisticated medical specialty; a short history of infectious diseases; the evolution of the diagnostic process; advances in obstetrics and anesthesia; and modern psychiatric therapies and the challenges facing organized medicine today. González-Crussi’s approach to these and other topics stems from his professed belief that the history of medicine isn’t just a continuum of scientific achievement but is deeply influenced by the personalities of the men and women who made or implemented these breakthroughs. And, as we learn, this field’s greatest practitioners were, like the rest of us, human beings with flaws, weaknesses, and limitations–including some who were scoundrels.
Insightful, informed, and at times controversial in its conclusions, A Short History of Medicine offers an exceptional introduction to the major and many minor facets of its subject. Written by a renowned author and educator, this book gives us the very essence of humankind’s search to mitigate suffering, save lives, and unearth the mysteries of the human animal.
Praise for F. González-Crussi
“What Oliver Sacks does for the mind, González-Crussi [does] for the eye in this captivating set of philosophical meditations on the relationship between the viewer and the viewed.”
–Publishers Weekly, on On Seeing
“[González-Crussi fuses] science, literature, and personal history into highly civilized artifacts.”
–The Washington Post, on There Is a World Elsewhere