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May 24, 1958

The Medical World of the Eighteenth Century

JAMA. 1958;167(4):523. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990210109020

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A book on any phase of the history of medicine is likely to be doubly interesting, because there is intrinsic fascination in the doings of humanity in the past and because the reader might thereby be enabled to spare himself a repetition of old mistakes. Focused on the medicine of the 1700's, this book gives some startling descriptions of life in an age when physicians had no thermometers, their watches had no second hands, surgeons had no anesthetics, and their patients had only the most rudimentary ideas of cleanliness. It traces the slow progress of medical science in that century, through innumerable contributions, large and small, but especially those of Hermann Boerhaave. It also traces the development of medical ethics and medical organizations through innumerable conflicts of specialty with specialty and of one profession with another. The text is made readable by the author's clear, unaffected style and by his

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