The history of public health has been a flourishing field in the last three decades. Yet despite a spate of excellent monographs about various epidemic diseases and many good collections about health and disease in Africa, Asia, The Middle East, Latin America, as well as Europe and North America, the most recent textbook on the history of public health is four decades old.
This collection of 12 essays originated in a number of conference papers addressing the theme 'History from Below: the Urban Poor and the Reception of Medicine and Charity in Western European Cities'. The essays in the book examine the consumption of health and welfare in Britain, or more accurately, in England, with the main chronological focus being on the 19th and 20th centuries.
Psychoactive drug restrictions and prohibitions have typically followed a reactionary pattern. From tobacco to LSD, the introduction of novel drugs has prompted therapeutic experimentation. Officials showed little concern until these substances also became popular recreational intoxicants.
Barry Doyle’s new study addresses a subject area that has lately attracted much interest from social, political and medical historians. The reasons why Britain’s inter-war health services have become such a hot topic are not hard to discern.
With The Royal Touch in Early Modern England: Politics, Medicine and Sin, Stephen Brogan offers a new understanding of the royal touch – the ability of kings and queens to miraculously heal their subjects of particular diseases in 16th and especially 17th-century England.
Ten years after its publication, A History remains relevant. The epidemic continues to rage. The context of its historical and relational trajectories continues to shape both its evolution and the responses to it.
From a public health perspective the disease of smallpox was officially declared eradicated in 1980 – the result of a successful global initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the first and to date only success against a disease in humans. The world could celebrate its freedom from a dreaded disease.
From a comparative perspective the health system of the United States has a history that is both representative and idiosyncratic.
In Disability and the Welfare State in Britain. Changes in Perception and Policy 1948–1979, Jameel Hampton provides a scholarly account of the development of disability policy after the Second World War.
Tom Crook has written a big book – big in scope, range, and thought. It is both an overview of the institutionalization of public health in England and an interpretation of that event as paradigmatic of the systems and practices of pervasive governance that constitute modernity.