Sunday, January 17, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Health and Wellness in 19th-Century America by John C. Waller

Every once in a while, I dip my toe into the ocean of the history of medicine. Health and Wellness in 19th-century America by John C. Waller is part of the Health and Wellness in Daily Life series published by Greenwood. Although I think I would find their Health and Wellness in Antiquity through the Middle Ages more interesting, I went with 19th-century America because it’s a time of great change, encompassing the birth of modern medicine.

This book takes a broad view of the subject, looking at the roles of environment, education and training, faith and religion’s overlap with medicine in healing, the health of women, children and infants, infectious diseases, occupational hazards, war, the rise of commercial pharmaceuticals, the changing place of hospitals, and a host of other topics. The differences in medical care for rich and poor, and between white, black, and Native American populations are also pointed out each step of the way. There is a fair amount of repetition from chapter to chapter, but this is helpful if you are particularly interested in one or a few of the topics but not in the whole book.

As is typical in such sweeping introductory books, it conveys a lot of information but broadly, without a whole lot of depth. I found a few things I would like to know more about, so this is a great jumping off point. After I delve into a couple of the topics, I may go locate a copy of the Antiquity through Middle Ages volume.