- Geschichte der Arzneimitteltherapie
Potential readers of this book should first be informed that it is not a history of drug therapy, as its title proclaims, but clearly a history of drugs, and as such, an aspect of the history of pharmacy. This statement is not disproved by an introductory chapter on the history of therapeutic concepts that is too short and diluted with sectarian medicine and drug formulations. A second short part deals with drugs from antiquity to the nineteenth century, summarizing their development [End Page 537] and transformations through the ages. The major portion of the book is a presentation of the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century drugs; surprisingly for a modern book, these are divided into natural and synthetic drugs. Nevertheless, this part stands out as the best: it contains much information on the history of classes of drugs and of individual drugs, their discovery, and the personalities involved, all enriched with interesting historical details. The authors have thus produced a practical reference book, with a useful index. Its particular advantage is the fact that it contains drugs developed up to the 1990s.
There is no lack of literature on the history of drugs, however. For several reasons, this book does not reach the level of the standard works in this field, which provide more cultural, social, and literary background. Furthermore, the selection of literature provided for each chapter is not anchored in the text, it strongly in favors German literature, and there are citation errors. The text contains irritating medical and historical inaccuracies, misspelled names (even household names like Laveran, Nencki, Cullen, Rothlin, and Laennec), and frequently sloppy use of terminology. With respect to the nomenclature of drugs, there is a confusion of generic and trade names. Yet despite these shortcomings and a misleading title, this is a useful reference book for rapid information on the history of drugs.