Phantom Plague by Vidya KrishnanThe definitive social history of tuberculosis, from its origins as a haunting mystery to its modern reemergence that now threatens populations around the world. It killed novelist George Orwell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and millions of others - rich and poor. Desmond Tutu, Amitabh Bachchan, and Nelson Mandela survived it, just. For centuries, tuberculosis has ravaged cities and plagued the human body. In Phantom Plague, Vidya Krishnan, traces the history of tuberculosis from the slums of 19th-century New York to modern Mumbai. In a narrative spanning century, Krishnan shows how superstition and folk-remedies, made way for scientific understanding of TB, such that it was controlled and cured in the West. The cure was never available to black and brown nations. And the tuberculosis bacillus showed a remarkable ability to adapt - so that at the very moment it could have been extinguished as a threat to humanity, it found a way back, aided by authoritarian government, toxic kindness of philanthropists, science denialism and medical apartheid. Krishnan's original reporting paints a granular portrait of the post-antibiotic era as a new, aggressive, drug resistant strain of TB takes over. Phantom Plague is an urgent, riveting and fascinating narrative that deftly exposes the weakest links in our battle against this ancient foe.
Publication Date: 2022
Medical Apartheid:The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. WashingtonFrom the era of slavery to the present day, starting with the earliest encounters between Black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, Medical Apartheid details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how Blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of Blacks. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions. The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed, Medical Apartheid reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused Black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust.
Publication Date: 2008
Nurse Writers of the Great War by Christine HallettThe First World War was the first 'total war'. Its industrial weaponry damaged millions of men and drove whole armies underground into dangerously unhealthy trenches. Many were killed. Many more suffered terrible, life-threatening injuries: wound infections such as gas gangrene and tetanus, exposure to extremes of temperature, emotional trauma and systemic disease. In an effort to alleviate this suffering, tens of thousands of women volunteered to serve as nurses. Of these, some were experienced professionals while others had undergone only minimal training. But regardless of their preparation, they would all gain a unique understanding of the conditions of industrial warfare. Until recently their contributions, both to the saving of lives and to our understanding of warfare, have remained largely hidden from view. By combining biographical research with textual analysis, Nurse writers of the great war opens a window onto their insights into the nature of nursing and the impact of war.
The Lobotomy Letters by Mical RazDrawing from original correspondence penned by lobotomy patients and their families as well as from the professional papers of lobotomy pioneer and neurologist Walter Freeman, The Lobotomy Letters gives an account of the widespread acceptance of this controversial procedure. The rise and widespread acceptance of psychosurgery constitutes one of the most troubling chapters in the history of modern medicine. By the late 1950s, tens of thousands of Americans had been lobotomized as treatment for a host of psychiatric disorders. Though the procedure would later be decried as devastating and grossly unscientific, many patients, families, and physicians reported veritable improvement from the surgery; some patients were even considered cured. The Lobotomy Letters gives an account of why this controversial procedure was sanctioned by psychiatrists and doctors of modern medicine. Drawing from original correspondence penned by lobotomy patients andtheir families as well as from the professional papers of lobotomy pioneer and neurologist Walter Freeman, the volume reconstructs how physicians, patients, and their families viewed lobotomy and analyzes the reasons for its overwhelming use. Mical Raz, MD/PhD, is a physician and historian of medicine.