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October 27, 1999

Public Health HistoryHealth, Civilization and the State: A History of Public Health from Ancient to Modern Times

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Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999American Medical Association

JAMA. 1999;282(16):1589. doi:10.1001/jama.282.16.1589

"For many students," this book begins, "the idea of studying the history of public health provokes a very big yawn." Despite the light-hearted opener, the following pages largely deliver on that promise. It is a pity, because the story of the great plagues, of disease and pestilence, of public filth and industrial poisoning—and the valiant social and political efforts to control these threats—can make for captivating reading. There are a number of popular books that describe these in rich historical detail. This is not one of them.

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