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Books, Journals, New Media
September 12, 2001

HistoryHealth and Disease in Human History

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available


Copyright 2001 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2001American Medical Association


edited by Robert I. Rotberg (A Journal of Interdisciplinary History Reader), 345 pp, with illus, paper, $25, ISBN 0-262-68123-4, Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 2000.

JAMA. 2001;286(10):1239-1240. doi:10.1001/jama.286.10.1239-JBK0912-5-1

Since 1970, the Journal of Interdisciplinary History (JIH) has been introducing historians to techniques developed in other fields. Most often these have been quantitative methods associated with economics and other social sciences, but JIH also encourages borrowing from biomedicine. The book at hand is a collection of essays that "exemplify the best work that the JIH published" on health and disease during its first 30 years.

Although the phrase "interdisciplinary history" might imply a broad appeal, to this reader most of the reprinted articles seem to be highly specialized. Two (on mortality in six Texas counties at the turn of the 20th century and on a previously unrecognized reproductively isolated community in Oregon) are simply examples of expert use of complex statistical methods and fascinating genealogical work applied to an apparent biomedical anomaly. Many of the other pieces are contributions to debates within historical demography, some of very narrow interest, others with significant implications for other areas of history or social policy.

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