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Bulletin of the History of Medicine 78.1 (2004) 262-265



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Book Notes


Ian F. McNeely. "Medicine on a Grand Scale": Rudolf Virchow, Liberalism, and the Public Health. Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, Occasional Publication, no. 1. London: Wellcome Trust, 2002. 97 pp. $15.00, £10.00 (paperbound, 0-85484-082-6).

Considering the importance of Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) to the history of nineteenth-century medical science and social medicine, it is surprising that there has not been a Virchow "industry." Erwin Ackerknecht's standard biography, though still informative reading, is now half a century old. For those who teach the history of medicine and for anyone with an interest in Virchow's rich career, we are indebted to Professor McNeely of the University of Oregon, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College, London, for providing this hundred-page booklet that sees Virchow through a new lens.

The five chapter titles give a good sense of the contents of the book: "Medicine, Politics, and Liberalism in the Career of Rudolf Virchow"; "Virchow's Revolutionary Years: Medicine and Politics as Liberal Social Science"; "Virchow and the Canalization of Berlin: The Promise of Urban Liberalism"; "Virchow in Parliament: Frustrations of National Health Politics"; and "Virchow and the Legacy of German Liberalism." [End Page 262]

Gert H. Brieger
Lilian R. Furst, ed. Medical Progress and Social Reality: A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Literature. SUNY Series, The Margins of Literature. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. xiv + 314 pp. $66.50 (cloth, 0-7914-4803-7), $24.95 (paperbound, 0-7914-4804-5).

In this handy guide for classroom teaching, Lilian Furst, professor of comparative literature at the University of North Carolina and a prolific contributor to the field of medicine and literature, has provided us with long extracts from ethical and medical guides and from fiction that describe the world of doctors and patients. She begins with the Hippocratic Oath and the codes of the AMA since 1847. Other selections, all with very informative introductions that set each into its literary as well as its medical-historical context, include Trollope's Dr. Thorne; Eugène Sue's Les mystères de Paris, which describes the hospital world of Paris in the early 1840s and is not otherwise available in English; and sections from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,Arrowsmith,Buddenbrooks, and Of Human Bondage. Furst also includes several sections about women as patients and as doctors, and a gripping story by the Russian writer-physician Mikhail Bulgakov in which he is forced to save a patient suffocating from diphtheria by inserting a tube into the trachea by a procedure he had not performed, nor even seen, previously. Her final section includes extensive selections from Dr. Daniel Cathell's late nineteenth-century advice manual for doctors, a book reprinted many times until 1922.

Furst's introductions to each reading illustrate the richness of literary texts for the history of medicine, and show the value of reading these in the context of a historical knowledge of medicine. [End Page 263]

Gert H. Brieger
Anne Hunsaker Hawkins and Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, eds. Teaching Literature and Medicine. Modern Language Association of America Options for Teaching. New York: Modern Language Association, 2000. viii + 406 pp. $40.00 (cloth, 0-87352-356-3), $22.00 (paperbound, 0-87352-357-1).

An indication of the growth and professionalization of the field of medicine and literature is the appearance of this very useful guide for teaching the subject in a medical school or undergraduate setting, edited by Anne Hawkins, who has taught for more than a decade at the medical school of Penn State, and Marilyn McEntyre of Westmont College. In their introduction, the editors trace the brief modern history of these courses, which seem to have become more popular after the various curriculum revisions in medical schools beginning in the 1960s. By the early 1970s a discipline was taking shape, and by 1995, the editors claim, one-third of all medical schools were teaching...

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