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January 17, 1977

The Healers: The Rise of the Medical Establishment

JAMA. 1977;237(3):275. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270300079016

One of the great gaps in medical literature has been a brief history of medicine in America. Monographs and specialized studies, biographies and critical analyses are abundant, but there has been no recent comprehensive exposition. Duffy's new book is therefore very welcome indeed.

The author provides a panorama of medicine in America that ranges from the early 16th century to the third quarter of the 20th, and from Indian medicine of pre-Columbian times to malpractice insurance in the 1970s. The presentation up to the latter 19th century follows the traditional pattern—the Colonial period, the special difficulties that medicine faced in the New World, the gradual progress in the 18th century, medicine in the Revolution, the rise of hospitals and medical schools, medicine on the frontier, the decline of "heroic medicine," the rise of medical sects and "popular" medicine, the great developments in medical science and art, including the discovery of