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September 25, 1981

A Doctor for the People: 2,000 Years of General Practice in Britain

JAMA. 1981;246(13):1467-1470. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320130065034

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To compress 2,000 years of the history of a profession into 127 pages of text is a difficult task, even for an experienced teacher, and Dr Cule has made only a partial success of it. The approach he has taken is to write an informal narrative in an easy, almost conversational style, with ample color and black-and-white illustrations, which avoids textual footnotes and presents an eclectic mixture of social history, technical information, brief biographical references, and occasional interpretive comments. The result is a readable essay, authoritative in that the writer was himself a general practitioner for several years before turning to medical history, which he has taught in London and now teaches in Wales. Almost inevitably, large topics and stretches of history are passed over so summarily that the book can hardly escape the charge of superficiality. The British reader, for whom such terms as "the Tudor period" or "the