The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present

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Fontana Press, 1999 - Medicine - 833 pages
Medicine advances ever faster, and with it not just a capacity to overcome sickness, but to transform the very nature of life. Starting in ancient times, this text charts how this health revolution came about and how life for human beings in the West has ceased, in Hobbes' memorable phrase, to be nasty, brutish and short. Porter plots the growth of medical specialisms - pharmacology, physiology, anatomy, neurology, bacteriology - and the institutions of medicine - the hospital and asylum - to show how medical advances have often created as many problems as they have solved. The book also shows how the ancient Egyptians treated incipient baldness with a mixture of hippopotamus, lion, crocodile, goose, snake and ibex fat; how a mystery epidemic devastated ancient Athens and brought to an end the domination of that great city; and how lemons did as much as Nelson to defeat Napolean.

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User Review  - Widsith - LibraryThing

The defects of this book are many, but it would hurt to give it less than four stars and, the avoidance of pain being one of Porter's main themes, I will stick to a suitably thematic rating. There are ... Read full review

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User Review  - neurodrew - LibraryThing

The Greatest Benefit of Mankind Roy Porter Sunday, August 12, 2012 11:38 AM This is a massive survey of medicine in history. It is not only about physicians, but about the relations of humans to ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Roy Porter is Professor of the Social History of Medicine at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. He is the editor of the Fontana History of Science series, and the author of over sixty-five books, including the acclaimed bestseller 'London: A Social History'. His book on the history of madness in England, 'Mind Forg'd Manacles', won the Leo Gershoy Prize.

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