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Article
April 8, 1992

Medicine in America: A Short History

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco

 

by James H. Cassedy (The American Moment, S. I. Kutler, ed), 187 pp, $36, ISBN 0-8018-4207-7, paper $11.95, ISBN 0-8018-4208-5, Baltimore, Md, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

JAMA. 1992;267(14):1973. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480140099042
Abstract

Nowadays reputable scholars usually shy away from writing synthetic historical pieces. The sheer magnitude of the contemporary literature intimidates even the brave, while an increasingly specialized academic reward system discourages general works that fail to reveal new sources of evidence. Thus, readers will praise Dr Cassedy and his courage to write such an interesting history of American medicine.

As the author explains in the preface, this book "is selective rather than definitive in nature, suggestive and interpretive rather than comprehensive." This approach allows him to de-emphasize the usual list of dates, names, and accomplishments that crowd so many similar publications.

It should be stated from the outset that Cassedy's work is not a conventional history of medicine. Unlike Paul Starr's The Social Transformation of American Medicine, which specifically focuses on the medical profession in our country, the author has carefully woven health-related events and developments into the tapestry of American

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