Health and Wellness in 19th-Century America
Bleeding remained one of the most popular treatments in American hospitals until at least the mid-1800s. When cholera reached North America in 1832, it was widely believed to be a divine punishment, comparable to the belief surrounding leprosy or plague was in the medieval age. Until the late 1800s, the practice of medicine was almost entirely unregulated, resulting in a wide variety of "doctors," rationales, and effectiveness of treatment. Fortunately, health care in the United States experienced a revolution in the 20th century.
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This book provides a comprehensive description of what being sick and receiving "medical care" was like in 19th-century America, allowing modern readers to truly appreciate the scale of the improvements in healthcare theory and practice.
Health and Wellness in 19th-Century America covers a period of dramatic change in the United States by examining our changing understanding of the nature of the disease burden, the increasing size of the nation, and our conceptions of sickness and health. With topics ranging from the unsanitary tenements of New York's Five Points, the field hospitals of the Civil War, and to the laboratories of Johns Hopkins Medical School, author John C. Waller reveals a complex picture of tradition, discovery, innovation, and occasional spectacular success.
This book draws upon an extensive literature to document sickness and wellness in environments like rural homesteads, urban East-coast slums, and the hastily built cities of the West. It provides a fascinating historical examination of a century in which Americans made giant strides in understanding disease yet also clung to traditional methods and ideas, charting how U.S. medical science gradually transformed from being a backwater to a world leader in the field.
- Presents a comprehensive overview of American health and healthcare in a century where there was a profound shift in our understanding of—and ability to—overcome the big epidemic killers
Shows how religious and political views of the time could affect attitudes towards the victims of ill health and the responses of doctors and states
Provides the historical backdrop needed to explain why American healthcare followed a vastly different trajectory to European and other industrialized countries
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"As with others in the series, this title does a thorough job of covering broad health topics in a particular time period. High school and college students requiring reference material on the history of health and wellness for different eras will be well served by this set."
"This particular volume accomplishes the daunting task of describing the complexity of health and wellness and disease in nineteenth-century America. . . . This is not just a medical history book. This is a book filled with stories that describe the harrowing lives and deaths, particularly of white Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans. . . . Health and Wellness in 19th Century America could be a useful source for academic libraries in health and medicine, psychology, history, religion, Native American studies, African American studies, women's studies, and many other interdisciplinary courses."
"This book is an excellent introduction to the evolving state of health care in the U.S. and is most useful to those studying American history, women's history, and history of medicine."
"It is no easy task to provide a crisp, synthetic account of 19th-century U.S. medicine and healing. The period saw revolutions in theory, therapy, and practice; the introduction of new sites for the production of medical knowledge and the radical reformulation of older ones; and tectonic shifts in the social groups in- and excluded from a fractious medical marketplace. Waller, however, guides the reader with a steady hand and an unerring eye for both scholarly argument and telling historical details. This is a skillful, smartly written survey, one attentive to the needs of both academic and popular audiences, and sure to be of use in the undergraduate classroom."
"This volume admirably combines a wide-ranging overview of health in the 19th century with telling detail drawn from the lives of ordinary Americans. There is no better single volume available for learnedness, coverage, and sheer readability."
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