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‘It happened once in Paris that a certain sorceress impeded a man who had left her so that he could not have intercourse with another woman whom he had married. So she made an incantation over a closed lock and threw the lock into a well, and the key into another well, and the man was made impotent.
In her introduction the author emphasizes that her book, Operations Without Pain: The Practice and Science of Anaesthesia in Victorian Britain, is ‘In no way … intended to be a linear history of discoveries, techniques, or famous men’ (p. 4).
Early-modern Europe (here covering the years from 1492 to 1750) was constantly beset by plagues of all kinds. Scarcely a year passed in western Europe until the 1720s without an outbreak of ‘pestilence’, and scarcely a decade without a major epidemic that killed ten, twenty, or even forty per cent of the community. Expansion brought with it new dangers.
Disability Studies is a growing multi-disciplinary field. Although it is a relative newcomer to the academic arena, it has firmly established itself as a serious area of scholarly interest.
John Hassan sets himself an ambitious task in a book that ‘endeavours to trace humanity’s changing relationships with nature over the last 200 years’ (p. 7). Concentrating on the coast focuses the challenge, especially given that much attention is on more ‘parochial problems’ and ‘local difficulties’ (p. 7).
It is not often that a tutor is handed an entire course on a plate, ready for consumption, served up complete with material for the lectures, case studies, points for seminar discussion, essay questions, as well as primary and secondary readings for student use. But that is exactly what the pair of books under review provide.
There has been much interest in biological weapons in recent years, stoked by ongoing debates over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and by fears that such weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists.
For aficionados of strong drink and a good story, there are quite a few books published on the subject of absinthe, and most of them have been published in the last ten years.(1) Perhaps it is a function of millennialism that interest has been stimulated in a drink formulated over two hundred years ago and demonised as the ruin of modern French civilis
Margaret Pelling, author ofThe Common Lot: Sickness, Medical Occupations and the Urban Poor in Early Modern England (London: Longman, 1998) and currently Reader in the Social History of Medicine at the University of Oxford, has produced a new volume in the Oxford Studies in Social History series, Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London.
In recent years, the debate on the role of science and its many guises in nineteenth century medical practice, has been reinvigorated by new studies which have shown the dense complexity of the interweavings between science and medicine.