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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).
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).
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.
John Monro was not, I suspect, an interesting man.
At least until recently, the explosion in study of the history of mental illness has not been mirrored in comparable studies of the history of developmental disability. In the last few years, that has begun to change, with the publications of major works by Mathew Thomson,(1) David Wright,(2) and this work by Mark Jackson.
In spite of its intellectual, literary and comic brilliance, this book contains a dark and disturbing, but revealing, message. In some ways, my melancholy reading of Bodies Politic has inevitably been shaped by Roy's recent untimely death. Roy Porter was without doubt the finest social historian of medicine this country, or indeed the world, has produced.
Several decades ago, during my teenage years in the 1970s, I attended a grammar school near Reigate in Surrey. Every weekday morning for seven years, I would take an early train from Horley to Redhill, before walking or catching a bus from there to the school.
Matthew Hilton has produced an extremely well written account of smoking in popular culture. It is crafted skilfully in an attractive prose style that fully reflects the call of the editor of the Studies in Popular Culture series for readable and accessible academic writing. In his debut monograph Hilton has established himself as an historian of real ability and great promise.
The social history of madness is a vibrant area of intellectual enquiry which in the past 20 years has generated an impressive series of monographs and essay collections. This volume is a scholarly addition to the literature.