Health and Medicine Through History: From Ancient Practices to 21st-Century Innovations

Greenwood. 3 vols. Aug. 2019. 1,127p. ISBN 9781440858918. $303.05. REF
Engs (applied health sciences, Indiana Univ. Bloomington) explores how human understanding of the body and health has evolved over time as successive generations warded off disease and attempted to improve the human condition. Readers will be struck by the progress over time, the unexpected similarities between medical beliefs and practices across disparate cultures, and the cyclical nature of medical and public health practices that track the rise and fall of civilizations. Divided into four sections, the work looks at antiquity through the Middle Ages, the 15th through 18th centuries, the 19th century, and the 20th century to the present. Though a few sections focus heavily on the United States and the UK, generally contributors draw from a variety of cultures, including India, China, West Africa, and the Caribbean. Perhaps the most fascinating, the third volume is devoted to indexed data and primary source documents—the graphs and tables offer an immediate sense of the success we’ve had combating illness.
VERDICT This inspired look at the evolution of health and medicine will appeal to the general public and undergraduate students.
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