The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (The Norton History of Science) (Paperback)

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (The Norton History of Science) By Roy Porter Cover Image

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (The Norton History of Science) (Paperback)

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Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize



"A panoramic and perfectly magnificent intellectual history of medicine…This is the book that delivers it all." —Sherwin Nuland, author of How We Die


Hailed as "a remarkable achievement" (Boston Globe) and as "a triumph: simultaneously entertaining and instructive, witty and thought-provoking…a splendid and thoroughly engrossing book" (Los Angeles Times), Roy Porter's charting of the history of medicine affords us an opportunity as never before to assess its culture and science and its costs and benefits to mankind. Porter explores medicine's evolution against the backdrop of the wider religious, scientific, philosophical, and political beliefs of the culture in which it develops, covering ground from the diseases of the hunter-gatherers to the more recent threats of AIDS and Ebola, from the clearly defined conviction of the Hippocratic oath to the muddy ethical dilemmas of modern-day medicine. Offering up a treasure trove of historical surprises along the way, this book "has instantly become the standard single-volume work in its field" (The Lancet).



Roy Porter (1946—2002) was professor of the history of medicine at University College, London. His books include Blood and Guts, The Creation of the Modern World, Flesh in the Age of Reason, and The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

Product Details ISBN: 9780393319804
ISBN-10: 0393319806
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: October 17th, 1999
Pages: 872
Language: English
Series: The Norton History of Science
[Porter's] perceptiveness is, as usual, scalpel-sharp; his manner genially bedside; his erudition invigorating.
— Simon Schama

To combine enormous knowledge with a delightful style and a highly idiosyncratic point of view is Roy Porter's special gift, and it makes [this] book…alive and fascinating and provocative on every page.
— Oliver Sacks, M.D.

A learned, lively history of medicine…merits a broad lay readership in addition to med students.
— Kirkus Reviews

Porter's magisterial chronicle of medical thinking and practice deserves the popularity of his bestselling London: A Social History…Written with storytelling flair and erudition, this study will be of interest to laypersons and professionals alike.

— Publishers Weekly