At the dawn of the twenty-first century, we have become accustomed to medical breakthroughs and conditioned to assume that, regardless of illnesses, doctors almost certainly will be able to help—not just by diagnosing us and alleviating our pain, but by actually treating or even curing diseases, and significantly improving our lives.
For most of human history, however, that was far from the case, as veteran medical historian Michael Bliss explains in The Making of Modern Medicine. Focusing on a few key moments in the transformation of medical care, Bliss reveals the way that new discoveries and new approaches led doctors and patients alike to discard fatalism and their traditional religious acceptance of suffering in favor of a new faith in health care and in the capacity of doctors to treat disease. He takes readers in his account to three turning points—a devastating smallpox outbreak in Montreal in 1885, the founding of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical School, and the discovery of insulin—and recounts the lives of three crucial figures—researcher Frederick Banting, surgeon Harvey Cushing, and physician William Osler—turning medical history into a fascinating story of dedication and discovery.
Compact and compelling, this searching history vividly depicts and explains the emergence of modern medicine—and, in a provocative epilogue, outlines the paradoxes and confusions underlying our contemporary understanding of disease, death, and life itself.