A timely, authoritative, and entertaining history of medicine in America by an eminent physician Despite all that has been written and said about American medicine, narrative accounts of its history are uncommon. Until Ira Rutkow’s Seeking the Cure, there have been no modern works, either for the lay reader or the physician, that convey the extraordinary story of medicine in the United States. Yet for more than three centuries, the flowering of medicine—its triumphal progress from ignorance to science—has proven crucial to Americans’ under-standing of their country and themselves. Seeking the Cure tells the tale of American medicine with a series of little-known anecdotes that bring to life the grand and unceasing struggle by physicians to shed unsound, if venerated, beliefs and practices and adopt new medicines and treatments, often in the face of controversy and scorn. Rutkow expertly weaves the stories of individual doctors—what they believed and how they practiced—with the economic, political, and social issues facing the nation. Among the book’s many historical personages are Cotton Mather, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington (whose timely adoption of a controversial medical practice probably saved the Continental Army), Benjamin Rush, James Garfield (who was killed by his doctors, not by an assassin’s bullet), and Joseph Lister. The book touches such diverse topics as smallpox and the Revolutionary War, the establishment of the first medical schools, medicine during the Civil War, railroad medicine and the beginnings of specialization, the rise of the medical-industrial complex, and the thrilling yet costly advent of modern disease-curing technologies utterly unimaginable a generation ago, such as gene therapies, body scanners, and robotic surgeries. In our time of spirited national debate over the future of American health care amid a seemingly infinite flow of new medical discoveries and pharmaceutical products, Rutkow’s account provides readers with an essential historic, social, and even philosophical context. Working in the grand American literary tradition established by such eminent writer-doctors as Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Carlos Williams, Sherwin Nuland, and Oliver Sacks, he combines the historian’s perspective with the physician’s seasoned expertise. Capacious, learned, and gracefully told, Seeking the Cure will satisfy armchair historians and doctors alike, for, as Rutkow shows, the history of American medicine is a portrait of America itself.
An argument that what makes science distinctive is its emphasis on evidence and scientists' willingness to change theories on the basis of new evidence. Attacks on science have become commonplace. Claims that climate change isn't settled science, that evolution is “only a theory,” and that scientists are conspiring to keep the truth about vaccines from the public are staples of some politicians' rhetorical repertoire. Defenders of science often point to its discoveries (penicillin! relativity!) without explaining exactly why scientific claims are superior. In this book, Lee McIntyre argues that what distinguishes science from its rivals is what he calls “the scientific attitude”—caring about evidence and being willing to change theories on the basis of new evidence. The history of science is littered with theories that were scientific but turned out to be wrong; the scientific attitude reveals why even a failed theory can help us to understand what is special about science. McIntyre offers examples that illustrate both scientific success (a reduction in childbed fever in the nineteenth century) and failure (the flawed “discovery” of cold fusion in the twentieth century). He describes the transformation of medicine from a practice based largely on hunches into a science based on evidence; considers scientific fraud; examines the positions of ideology-driven denialists, pseudoscientists, and “skeptics” who reject scientific findings; and argues that social science, no less than natural science, should embrace the scientific attitude. McIntyre argues that the scientific attitude—the grounding of science in evidence—offers a uniquely powerful tool in the defense of science.
Through the Victorian and Edwardian eras, various health movements emerged in the transition to the modern age of scientific medicine. Strange medical devices and quack cures were pushed, often using crude remedies based on simplistic beliefs and the placebo effect. Currently, some of these treatments appear absurd, even cruel. Because some were properly used as appropriate therapies, it is difficult to label them altogether as bogus. This book takes a thorough look at unconventional medical gadgets, as well as the strange devices and therapies used by both fringe and legitimate healers, and places them in the perspective of modern medicine. The author argues that quackery should not be defined by the ineffectiveness of a therapy, but rather be based on the fraudulent intent of the people who pushed dishonest and deceptive remedies.
“Part travelogue, part literary history, and part spiritual journey . . . His quest to find Han Shan’s cave is a delight from beginning to end.”—Chase Twichell, author of Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been In this transformative book, award-winning poet and essayist James Lenfestey makes an epic journey across the world to find the Cold Mountain Cave, a location long believed to exist only in myths and the ancient home of his idol, Han Shan, author of the Cold Mountain poems. Lenfestey’s voyage takes him from the Midwestern United States to Tokyo to a road trip across the expanse of China with frequent excursions to the country’s rich historical and cultural landmarks. As he makes his way to the cave, Lenfestey learns more than history or geography; he discovers his identity as a writer and a poet. Interspersed with poems by both the author and Han Shan, Seeking the Cave will appeal to lovers of poetry and travel narrative alike. “A lively account of Lenfestey’s trip to China . . . It unites our brief literary life with the ancient richness of Chinese culture.”—Robert Bly, New York Times bestselling author “A profound, and profoundly personal book. It’s very captivating, warm and friendly, personal, unguarded, idiosyncratic, pointed but also finally apolitical, and eminently charming.”—Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet “His lighthearted approach, poet’s attention to detail and genuine passion for the poems of Han-shan bring the narrative far beyond essential archetypes of the Far East.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune “[A] poetry-infused memoir . . . The story of his outer and inner journeys is frank, charming, funny, moving and wise.”—Greenfield Recorder
A compelling exploration of the mysteries of environmental toxicity and the community of “sensitives”—people with powerful, puzzling symptoms resulting from exposure to chemicals, fragrances, and cell phone signals, that have no effect on “normals.” They call themselves “sensitives.” Over fifty million Americans endure a mysterious environmental illness that renders them allergic to chemicals. Innocuous staples from deodorant to garbage bags wreak havoc on sensitives. For them, the enemy is modernity itself. No one is born with EI. It often starts with a single toxic exposure. Then the symptoms hit: extreme fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches, inability to tolerate certain foods. With over 85,000 chemicals in the environment, danger lurks around every corner. Largely ignored by the medical establishment and dismissed by family and friends, sensitives often resort to odd ersatz remedies, like lining their walls with aluminum foil or hanging mail on a clothesline for days so it can “off-gas” before they open it. Broudy encounters Brian Welsh, a prominent figure in the EI community, and quickly becomes fascinated by his plight. When Brian goes missing, Broudy travels with James, an eager, trusting sensitive to find Brian, investigate this disease, and delve into the intricate, ardent subculture that surrounds it. Their destination: Snowflake, the capital of the EI world. Located in eastern Arizona, it is a haven where sensitives can live openly without fear of toxins or the judgment of insensitive “normals.” While Broudy’s book is wry, pacey, and down-to-earth, it also dives deeply into compelling corners of medical and American history. He finds telling parallels between sensitives and their cultural forebears, from the Puritans to those refugees and dreamers who settled the West. Ousted from mainstream society, these latter-day exiles nonetheless shed bright light on the anxious, noxious world we all inhabit now.
First published in 1963, this work puts into clear and rhythmical English one hundred stories and apologues of the Masnavi of Rumi. Composed over a period of many years during the thirteenth century, as a manual of instruction and initiation into spiritual life, the Masnavi has long been acclaimed the greatest mystical epic of Islam. The tales were designed to illustrate in human terms the often complex doctrine, and this they do with a wealth of beauty, honour and pathos, as appealing to the modern reader as to the medieval audience to which they were originally addressed. The volume, like its predecessor Tales of the Masnavi, is included in the UNESCO list of representative great works of world literature. This work will be of interest to those studying Islam and Middle Eastern literature.
In the Upper Amazon, mestizos are the Spanish-speaking descendants of Hispanic colonizers and the indigenous peoples of the jungle. Some mestizos have migrated to Amazon towns and cities, such as Iquitos and Pucallpa; most remain in small villages. They have retained features of a folk Catholicism and traditional Hispanic medicine, and have incorporated much of the religious tradition of the Amazon, especially its healing, sorcery, shamanism, and the use of potent plant hallucinogens, including ayahuasca. The result is a uniquely eclectic shamanist culture that continues to fascinate outsiders with its brilliant visionary art. Ayahuasca shamanism is now part of global culture. Once the terrain of anthropologists, it is now the subject of novels and spiritual memoirs, while ayahuasca shamans perform their healing rituals in Ontario and Wisconsin. Singing to the Plants sets forth just what this shamanism is about--what happens at an ayahuasca healing ceremony, how the apprentice shaman forms a spiritual relationship with the healing plant spirits, how sorcerers inflict the harm that the shaman heals, and the ways that plants are used in healing, love magic, and sorcery.