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Book and Media Reviews
June 7, 2006

Medical History

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(21):2539-2543. doi:10.1001/jama.295.21.2540

What is medical history? John Burnham is a brave man to take on the daunting task of describing the literature and practitioners of this diverse field. This volume is specifically designed for the novice “who has encountered the history of medicine for the first time and wants an introduction” (p vi). Burnham is well suited for his task, being a past president of the American Association for the History of Medicine, a retired journal editor, and the author himself of multiple works on the history of mental health. He organizes the historian's subjects as “dramas,” presenting chapters in turn on healers, patients, and diseases, followed by accounts of discovering and communicating knowledge and the interaction of medicine and society.

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