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May 21, 1982

Theories of Fever From Antiquity to the Enlightenment

Author Affiliations

Tufts University School of Medicine Boston


edited by W. F. Bynum and V. Nutton (Medical History, suppl No. 1), 154 pp, $16, London, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1981.

JAMA. 1982;247(19):2723. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320440063043

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Despite the fact that the availability, acceptance, and use of clinical thermometers in medical practice is relatively recent medical history (Wunderlich's classic paper on clinical thermometry and fever was published in 1842), there is a wealth of treatises, books, pamphlets, and illustrations on the subject of fever as a general sign of disease as well as "fevers" as a diagnostic pool of the prevailing infectious diseases in the world. Medical historians considering various theories on fever during these 2,000 years also encounter a history of scientific philosophy. Theories on Fever From Antiquity to the Enlightenment is a compilation of seven essays that were delivered at a meeting of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in June 1980.

The seven articles are each expertly researched and clearly presented in the context of the specific theories of fevers and, in addition, the social, religious, and political effects such theories had