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Bodies Politic: Disease, Death and Doctors in Britain, 1650-1900
by Roy Porter
Reaktion Books, 2014
eISBN: 978-1-86189-822-7 | Paper: 978-1-86189-165-5

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | REVIEWS | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Bodies Politic takes a critical look at representations of the body in death, disease, and health, as well as at images of the healing arts in Britain from the mid-seventeenth to the twentieth century. Arguing that great symbolic weight was attached to contrasting conceptions of the healthy and diseased body, Roy Porter shows that such ideas were mapped onto antithetical notions of the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. With these images in mind, he explores aspects of being ill alongside the practice of medicine, paying special attention to self-presentations by physicians, surgeons, and quacks and the changes in practitioners’ public identities over time. Packed with amusing anecdotes and unusual illustrations, this book is a magisterial account of the meanings of disease, doctoring, and the “body politic.”
 
“A wonderful book. . . . There are 137 illustrations . . . and every one is an exultation in the fleshly horrors of the era.”—Guardian (UK)
 
“Roy Porter is one of the world’s best historical writers: his prose is pithy, witty, vivid, engaging, and perfectly paced. He has a keen eye for evidence and can wrest conclusions with analytical rigour and imaginative subtlety. He masters fact and theory with equal ease and wields both lightly and powerfully.”—Independent

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