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Book and Media Reviews
October 3, 2007

The Western Medical Tradition, 1800 to 2000

JAMA. 2007;298(13):1569-1574. doi:10.1001/jama.298.13.1573

The Western Medical Tradition, 1800 to 2000 is a detailed survey and analysis of the triumphs and failings of modern orthodox Western medicine. It is a companion volume to an earlier work, The Western Medical Tradition, 800 BC to AD 1800. The authors are faculty at the Wellcome Trust Centre at University College London, which has contributed immensely to our expanding knowledge of medical history. Harold J. Cook contributes a brief but helpful Introduction, and the rest of the book is divided into 4 chapters covering the periods 1800-1849, 1850-1913, 1914-1945, and 1945-2000. Each chapter provides a summary and interpretation of the key developments of its period and is preceded by a chronological table of major medical and contemporary events. The final chapter, by Anne Hardy and E. M. Tansey, is a particularly welcome synthesis of the medical developments and historical literature of the last 50 years of the 20th century.