This collection of essays represents an ambitious attempt to investigate the history of community care in Britain and Ireland from 1750 to the present. Community care is examined as both a social phenomenon and a distinct gov ernment programme.
The history of public health has been a flourishing field in the last three decades. Yet despite a spate of excellent monographs about various epidemic diseases and many good collections about health and disease in Africa, Asia, The Middle East, Latin America, as well as Europe and North America, the most recent textbook on the history of public health is four decades old.
Why attempt the history of suicide? Leaving aside the rare episodes of mass self-destruction by such people as sect members and warriors determined to die rather than fall into the hands of their enemies, suicides have never made up more than a tiny m inority of any known human population. A rate of 25 per 100,000, or one in four thousand, counts as high in the late twentieth century.
This book began life some years ago as a doctoral thesis, prepared under the direction of John Merriman. It is an investigation of conflicting nineteenth-century theories on contagion. Some experts thought that illness was brought in from outside society, particularly by immigrants, others that disease arose from within through a combination of physical and moral imperfections.
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.
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
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.
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.
Sandra Cavallo’s Artisans of the Body in Early Modern Italy will appeal to scholars interested in the social history of medicine for more than one reason.
‘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.