The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (The Norton History of Science)

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W. W. Norton, Oct 17, 1999 - Family & Relationships - 831 pages
30 Reviews

"To combine enormous knowledge with a delightful style and a highly idiosyncratic point of view is Roy Porter's special gift, and it makes [this] book . . . alive and fascinating and provocative on every page."—Oliver Sacks, M.D.

Hailed as "a remarkable achievement" (Boston Sunday Globe) and as "a triumph: simultaneously entertaining and instructive, witty and thought-provoking . . . a splendid and thoroughly engrossing book" (Los Angeles Times), Roy Porter's charting of the history of medicine affords us an opportunity as never before to assess its culture and science and its costs and benefits to mankind. Porter explores medicine's evolution against the backdrop of the wider religious, scientific, philosophical, and political beliefs of the culture in which it develops, covering ground from the diseases of the hunter-gatherers to today's threat of AIDS and ebola, from the clearly defined conviction of the Hippocratic oath to the muddy ethical dilemmas of modern-day medicine. Offering up a treasure trove of historical surprises along the way, this book "has instantly become the standard single-volume work in its field" (The Lancet). "The author's perceptiveness is, as usual, scalpel-sharp; his manner genially bedside; his erudition invigorating." - Simon Schama

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Review: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity

User Review  - Nathan Douthit - Goodreads

Not the most compelling, reads a bit like a textbook. Also, the author is pretty pessimistic about the advances of medicine, and I felt like the last two chapters contained quite a bit of editorializing. Overall, an interesting read. Read full review

Review: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity

User Review  - Wyndy - Goodreads

This is an upper division/ graduate level read. If you are lazy or not truly interested in the history of medicine, don't bother. As medical sociology faculty at Georgia State, I require this book of my students. It's worth your time. Read full review

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About the author (1999)

The late Roy Porter was professor of the history of medicine at University College, London. His books include The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

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