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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.
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
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.
The historiography of disease and medicine in colonial India has tended to concentrate on epidemic diseases and particularly those that have produced the greatest political upheavals. On the assumption that epidemic crises expose latent social tensions, historians have tended to treat epidemics as ‘windows’ through which to observe broader social and political trends.
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.
Research on the history of venereal diseases (VD), syphilis, gonorrhoea, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs in more recent parlance), has flourished in recent years. Both the editors of the current volume have recently published books on the topic, Davidson on VD policy and practice in Scotland, Hall a more general synthetic work.