Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Marguerite Vigliani, MD and Gale Eaton
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Beware of whiplash as you track the evolution of medicine across the globe from the ice age to 2016. Remedies are lost and rediscovered during the rise and fall of empires; unsavory research begets groundbreaking health practices; knowledge is stolen, borrowed, given, distorted, and built upon through flurries of epidemics, religious mania, and superstition. The book shows a glimpse behind the Chamberlen Family shroud of secrecy that hid nothing less than the original forceps, passed down from generation to generation of highly successful birthing doctors in the 1600s. Readers will learn of an Italian study to the coast where a disgusting amount of sewage flowed into the ocean, yet students swam in the area frequently and never became sick—another example of how mold in its natural habitat served as a eureka moment for more than one scientist. Dive into the foundations of the common sense we take for granted and glimpse the trajectory of the future of medicine in the fifty discoveries between these pages.
As with the rest of A History in 50 series, the authors of the medical volume include a prestigious medical professor and practicing OB/GYN Marguerite Vigliani, MD. The perspectives of both sides of controversial medical practices, including traditional medicine, research, and genetic practices, are respectfully yet shrewdly represented in each chapter. Furthermore, as is the practice of the series, a robust glossary, sources section, endnotes, and index accompany the engaging chapters written for the general population. Sexually transmitted diseases are mentioned, and some images of sick and injured are included and may be disturbing for young readers. Due to the human-centered nature of medicine, mistakes and discoveries aren’t simply clunky, useless inventions or super speedy exploration devices like in A History of Travel in 50 Vehicles, but life-or-death remedies or epidemics. The commentary on the history of medicine show the depth of human flaw and frailty, but also the heroism and instinct buried deep within us and will leave the reader with a bright hope for the fruit of future medical collaboration.