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March 27, 1996

The Medical Mandarins: The French Academy of Medicine in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco

JAMA. 1996;275(12):952-953. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530360062042

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The Royal Academy of Medicine, established in France during the Bourbon Restoration in 1820, provides a unique window from which to survey all key contemporary developments in French medicine. The author, a prominent historian-sociologist at McGill University, has provided a comprehensive and scholarly account of the institution's first century. In his reconstruction of the academy, Weisz has refreshingly presented his findings without placing them into ideological frameworks that tend to straitjacket historical events and place them in the service of particular political or sociological agendas. His methodology is simple: to depict the activities of a multifaceted institution such as the Royal Academy of Medicine through its debates and publications, as well as through an analysis of its distinguished membership.

When founded in 1820, the academy was primarily envisioned by its royal patrons as an instrument of France's public health and medical care policies. Advisory to the government, the academy acquired