The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866

University of Chicago Press
9
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Cholera was the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century, as the plague had been for the fourteenth. Its defeat was a reflection not only of progress in medical knowledge but of enduring changes in American social thought. Rosenberg has focused his study on New York City, the most highly developed center of this new society. Carefully documented, full of descriptive detail, yet written with an urgent sense of the drama of the epidemic years, this narrative is as absorbing for general audiences as it is for the medical historian. In a new Afterword, Rosenberg discusses changes in historical method and concerns since the original publication of The Cholera Years.

"A major work of interpretation of medical and social thought . . . this volume is also to be commended for its skillful, absorbing presentation of the background and the effects of this dread disease."—I.B. Cohen, New York Times

"The Cholera Years is a masterful analysis of the moral and social interest attached to epidemic disease, providing generally applicable insights into how the connections between social change, changes in knowledge and changes in technical practice may be conceived."—Steven Shapin, Times Literary Supplement

"In a way that is all too rarely done, Rosenberg has skillfully interwoven medical, social, and intellectual history to show how medicine and society interacted and changed during the 19th century. The history of medicine here takes its rightful place in the tapestry of human history."—John B. Blake, Science
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Feb 6, 2009
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Pages
276
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ISBN
9780226726762
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Epidemiology
Medical / General
Medical / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Since publication in 1958, George Rosen’s classic book has been regarded as the essential international history of public health. Describing the development of public health in classical Greece, imperial Rome, England, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, Rosen illuminates the lives and contributions of the field’s great figures. He considers such community health problems as infectious disease, water supply and sewage disposal, maternal and child health, nutrition, and occupational disease and injury. And he assesses the public health landscape of health education, public health administration, epidemiological theory, communicable disease control, medical care, statistics, public policy, and medical geography.

Rosen, writing in the 1950s, may have had good reason to believe that infectious diseases would soon be conquered. But as Dr. Pascal James Imperato writes in the new foreword to this edition, infectious disease remains a grave threat. Globalization, antibiotic resistance, and the emergence of new pathogens and the reemergence of old ones, have returned public health efforts to the basics: preventing and controlling chronic and communicable diseases and shoring up public health infrastructures that provide potable water, sewage disposal, sanitary environments, and safe food and drug supplies to populations around the globe.

A revised introduction by Elizabeth Fee frames the book within the context of the historiography of public health past, present, and future, and an updated bibliography by Edward T. Morman includes significant books on public health history published between 1958 and 2014. For seasoned professionals as well as students, A History of Public Health is visionary and essential reading.

In the years following World War II, medicine won major battles against smallpox, diphtheria, and polio. In the same period it also produced treatments to control the progress of Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and schizophrenia. It made realities of open-heart surgery, organ transplants, test-tube babies. Unquestionably, the medical accomplishments of the postwar years stand at the forefront of human endeavor, yet progress in recent decades has slowed nearly to a halt. In this judicious examination of medicine in our times, which has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, medical doctor and columnist James Le Fanu both surveys the glories of medicine in the postwar years and analyzes the factors that for the past twenty-five years have increasingly widened the gulf between achievement and advancement: the social theories of medicine, ethical issues, and political debates over health care that have hobbled the development of vaccines and discovery of new “miracle” cures. While fully demonstrating the extraordinary progress effected by medical research in the latter half of the twentieth century, Le Fanu also identifies the perils that confront medicine in the twenty-first. 16 pages of black-and-white photographs add to what the Los Angeles Times cited as “a sobering, contrarian challenge” to the “nostrum of medicine as a never-ending font of ‘miracle cures’.” “[From] a respected science writer ... important information that ... has been overlooked or ignored by many physicians.”—New Republic “Provocative and engrossing and informative.”—Houston Chronicle “Marvelously written, meticulously researched ... one of the most thought-provoking and important works to appear in recent years.”—Choice
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