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Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals

Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals by Guenter B. Risse
English | April 15, 1999 | ISBN-10: 0195055233 | 716 pages | PDF | 50,3 MB

Since the publication of his award-winning Hospital Life in Enlightenment Scotland (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986), Guenter Risse has been recognized as a leading historian of hospitals. Mending Bodies, Saving Souls is a worthy successor to Risse's earlier study. It is a well-researched work of amazing breadth.

And it asks all the right questions."The generic hospital," writes Risse, "is an abstraction. In reality, there are only particular hospitals, each with its unique name, patrons and mission, buildings, staff, and patients." Risse describes his approach as "episodic, a series of portraits" of particular hospitals (or, in some cases, prehospitals), "loosely arranged in chronological order but also strategically chosen to cover important themes in the history of medicine and therapeutics." Each chapter focuses on a single patient who sought treatment in one of the many celebrated hospitals described in the book.

Some patients were distinguished figures, such as the second-century Roman orator Aelius Aristides, and others were persons whose stories are known to us today only through the accident of historical preservation, such as Grette Thielen, a German housewife who was examined for leprosy in 1492. These accounts provide fascinating vignettes of the experiences of individual hospital patients over a period of nearly two millennia.

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Tags: Mending, Bodies, Saving, History, Hospitals

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