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March 23, 1994

Explaining Epidemics and Other Studies in the History of Medicine

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco

JAMA. 1994;271(12):957. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510360087048

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Readers interested in the medical past will certainly welcome this collection of essays by one of the most distinguished contemporary historians in the field. Written during the past three decades, Professor Rosenberg's 16 works cover an impressive range of subjects primarily dealing with American medicine, from domestic healing to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Although the title suggests a strong emphasis on epidemics, the book contains a rich mix of issues and topics.

The first of three parts collects a number of essays focusing on medical ideas and their social consequences. The second group examines institutions such as dispensaries and hospitals and the medical care they provided during the past century. A third section contains more recent contributions in which the author uses the historical perspective to illuminate a number of critical contemporary issues, including psychiatry and deinstitutionalization of the insane, social responses to disease, the roots of our hospital

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