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March 8, 1995

The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy From the Greeks to the Beginning of Modern Neurology

Author Affiliations

Carolina Neurological Clinic Charlotte, NC

JAMA. 1995;273(10):823. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520340079044

A JAMA reviewer hailed the 1945 first edition of The Falling Sickness as a reference work with "no historical rival," which "occupies a separate shelf in the reviewer's Library of Fame."1 A revised second edition, published in 1971, increased the bibliography from a hefty 706 references to a weighty 1120. The number of footnotes, many in French, Latin, or Greek, multiplied from 1721 to 2073!2 The reviewer of the second edition deemed Temkin's intensely researched and well-organized historical work "magnificent."

The 1994 publication is a softcover reprint of the long out-of-print 1971 revised edition. Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, this informative book is now available at a very modest cost.

One of the striking features of The Falling Sickness is the author's apparent lack of any agenda besides pure scholarship. His interpretation of historical research does not seem politically motivated, and no pharmaceutical company or other

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