Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in American History
Synopses & Reviews
Vomiting. Diarrhea. Dehydration. Death. Confusion. In 1832, the arrival of cholera in the United States created widespread panic throughout the country. For the rest of the century, epidemics swept through American cities and towns like wildfire, killing thousands. Physicians of all stripes offered conflicting answers to the cholera puzzle, ineffectively responding with opiates, bleeding, quarantines, and all manner of remedies, before the identity of the dreaded infection was consolidated under the germ theory of disease some sixty years later.
These cholera outbreaks raised fundamental questions about medical knowledge and its legitimacy, giving fuel to alternative medical sects that used the confusion of the epidemic to challenge both medical orthodoxy and the authority of the still-new American Medical Association. In Knowledge in the Time of Cholera, Owen Whooley tells us the story of those dark days, centering his narrative on rivalries between medical and homeopathic practitioners and bringing to life the battle to control public understanding of disease, professional power, and democratic governance in nineteenth-century America.
"This volume is, as its author tells us, actually two books in one. The first is a social history of the rise in authority of the medical profession. The second is an examination of medicine's transformation into an industry and the role of corporations and the state in medical economics. Starr deals with such historical and contemporary issues as why Americans, who were distrustful of medical authority in the 19th century, became devoted to it in the 20th, and why we have no U. S. national health insurance program. One of the great values of this broad and comprehensive work is that it examines the various roads not taken in the development of American health-care systems; Starr would not be sorry, he writes, if his analyses of these roads 'served as a reminder that the past had other possibilities, and so do we today.' This volume serves that purpose admirably." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"If you read only one book about American medicine, this is the one you should read." Science
"A tour de force a provocative, insightful study that is both scholarly and readable." New England Journal of Medicine
"Superb sociology, superior history and essential reading for anyone interested in the fate of American medicine." Newsweek
A landmark history of how the entire American health care system of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs has evolved over the last two centuries.
Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in American History, this is a landmark history of how the entire American health care system of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs has evolved over the last two centuries.
"The definitive social history of the medical profession in America....A monumental achievement."H. Jack Geiger, M.D., New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Paul Starr is professor of sociology at Princeton University.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Of Cholera, Quacks, and Competing Medical Visions
2and#160;The Formation of the AMA, the Creation of Quacks
3and#160;The Intellectual Politics of Filth
4and#160;Cholera Becomes a Microbe
5and#160;Capturing Cholera, and Epistemic Authority, in the Laboratory
Conclusion: Medicine after the Time of Cholera
Appendix: A Comment on Sources