by Irvine Loudon, 622 pp, with illus, $95, ISBN 0-19-822997-6, New York, NY, Clarendon Press/ Oxford University Press, 1992.
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At first glance this is an imposing and intimidating book, over 600 pages with six appendices and scores of tables. It is enough to frighten all but the most intrepid reader. But first impressions in this case are deceiving. From its imaginative preface to the final appendix, this voluminous study of maternal mortality is a landmark work in the history of medicine. Few writers could put so much statistical and social data into such engaging prose. Thus, this learned book turns out to be very good reading.
Dr Loudon, who for many years was in general practice in England and is the author of a previously highly acclaimed book about the origins of general practice in Britain, has with great skill told many good stories, and he has clearly explained many trends and developments. It is thus a fine example of what medicine, particularly obstetrics, was all about.
Brieger GH. Death in Childbirth: An International Study of Maternal Care and Maternal Mortality 1800-1950. JAMA. 1994;271(2):155. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510260087036