As scientists confidently look forward to average life expectancies hitting 100+ years in some Western societies, it’s easy to forget how precarious our grasp on good health has been. It is a struggle no better demonstrated than by the myriad and extraordinary measures that humans have gone to – as diverse as animal sacrifice to stem cell transplants – in their quest to stave off death and disease.
Acclaimed historian Mark Jackson takes a fresh, global view of mankind’s great battle, exploring both Western and Eastern traditions. Examining ancient right through to modern approaches to health and illness, Jackson presents the orthodox and alternative practices and key turning points – sometimes for good and sometimes not – that determined how different cultures tackled disease. The result is a fascinating survey of the complex ways in which medicine and society have shaped one another throughout the ages.
‘As ever Mark Jackson offers us a humane and expansive view of the past to inform our vision of the future. As well as being a fantastic introduction to the history of medicine, this book is essential reading at a time when medical humanities scholars are for the first time working closely with clinicians and scientists to influence the direction of medical therapy and practice.’
– Jane Macnaughton, Professor of Medical Humanities, Durham University
'Lively and accessible. This is much more than a beginner’s guide, it will make students think.'
– Linda Bryder, Professor of History, University of Aukland
'The very best one volume history of health and illness available. Clearly written, up-to-date and informative...A great read.'
– Sander Gilman, Professor of Liberal Art and Sciences, Emory University
'The history of medicine does not come more sumptuous than this. In one short book, Jackson has transformed the way we understand the theory and practice of medicine. This is global history at its most sophisticated.'
– Joanna Bourke, Professor of History, Birkbeck College, University of London