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November 21, 1977

Fighting Infection: Conquests of the 20th Century

JAMA. 1977;238(21):2309. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280220077034

In medicine, unfortunately, there is an all-too-prevalent attitude that anything more than 20 years old is of antiquarian interest only. However, if we can avoid this parochial viewpoint and learn to appreciate history, we can gain an insight that comes only from understanding the background, the problems, and the special difficulties. Dr Dowling's latest book provides just such an insight in regard to infectious diseases. He has personally played an important part in the development of antibioties, and his own experience provides a quality to the exposition that no mere study of sources could possibly generate. Furthermore, he brings a sound historical knowledge of medicine of the past century and a minute acquaintance with the literature relevant to his own research. This background, combined with an engaging literary style, results in a book both enjoyable and rewarding.

Dowling does not try to cover all infectious diseases but wisely limits himself