By Roy Porter

'Yet one other compulsively readable, astonishingly encyclopaedic e-book from Roy Porter!his top to this point: an epic, one-volume narrative background of man's fight with the infirmities of his physique, from Aesculapius to AIDS.' SIMON SCHAMA 'Whether you have an interest within the creation of the stethoscope, the historical past of yellow fever, the bubonic plague or, towards domestic, heart affliction, the feminist effect on medication, drug abuse, childbearing or melanoma, this ebook presents the old heritage to those and different clinical questions! the best profit to Mankind is a firstclass creation to scientific background. Like a good built broadsheet chief, it excites notion and dialogue, in addition to delivering many answers.' THOMAS STUTTAFORD, the days medication advances ever quicker, and with it a ability not only to beat affliction, yet to remodel the very nature of lifestyles. beginning in antiquity, Roy Porter's significant historical past examines the traditions of either East and West to chart how this revolution took place and the way existence for humans in a few components of the realm has ceased to be 'nasty, brutish and short'. the best gain to Mankind turns into from the instant of ebook the traditional paintings on its topic. it's also a powerful leisure and a satisfaction to learn.

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11 A revealing comment on the contemporary situation was made by Haygarth in 1782 following the failure of a scheme launched in Chester with the aim of eradicating smallpox from the city: In Chester and I believe in most of the large towns of England the casual small-pox is almost constantly present. All the children of the middle and higher ranks of our citizens are inoculated in early infancy. The populace, very generally regarding the distemper as inevitable, neither fear nor shun it, but much more frequently by voluntary or intentional intercourse endeavour to catch the casual infection […] It is with concern we remark that in one part of the town […] the inhabitants, disregarding an inspector’s exhortations, have purposely propagated the distemper, carrying the poison and even the patients, from one house to another without reserve.

4 The hostility of the doctors, their unwillingness to see her daughter’s inoculation succeed, was so great, Lady Mary maintained, that ‘she never cared to leave the child alone with them one second lest it should in some way suffer from their interference’. This suggests something approaching paranoia, and need not be taken too seriously. Lady Mary’s lifelong contempt for ‘the faculty’ is well documented and may well have communicated itself to her descendants. * * * Looking back from the end of the century on the events surrounding the introduction of inoculation, Woodville summarized the activities of the opposing parties and laid on both sides blame for its failure to produce ‘the distinct or favourable kind of small-pox’.

The destruction did not proceed in an unbroken sequence: during periods of perhaps a decade or so at a time, as for example between 1698 and 1710, the virus was largely quiescent. There were many parts of the Vaccination controversy text:Vaccination controversy 24 16/11/07 09:16 Page 24 The Vaccination Controversy kingdom in which smallpox may have been feared but was scarcely known. If there were once what might, following Gregory’s example, be termed a ‘law of universal horror’ it steadily lost much of its relevance as time went by, for reasons having less to do with medical advances than with quirks of human nature, which emerge from the testimony of contemporary observers during the later years of the century.

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