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Originally published in 1945, Temkin's history of epilepsy has been the definitive work on the subject. It not only gave a detailed historical account of the disease with great erudition, but it also cast light on the entire history of medicine. Indeed, when we investigate one aspect thoroughly enough, we can gain insight into the whole. The study of a single disease in sufficient depth can involve the entire course of medical history—its changing theory and practice, its progressive differentiations and discriminations, its therapeutic successes, its religious and social aspects—and can represent a microcosm through which we may penetrate to the macrocosm. And so it is with the history of epilepsy as Temkin has given it to us. He has placed the disease, with all its complex meanings, into a very broad context, nothing less than Western civilization.
The book had been out of print far too long. The new
King LS. The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy From the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology. JAMA. 1972;220(6):869. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200060093040