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C. P. Lesley

Bookworm, writer, radio host—I blog about history, fiction, and publishing in the Internet Age. You can find the full blog on my website. This space is for books.

Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine: An Introduction to Knowledge and Practice - Nancy G. Siraisi

A really fascinating, well-written, easy to follow introduction to medieval and Renaissance medicine in theory and practice. It is not the author's fault that she didn't tell me what I wanted to know: how our ancestors understood and (attempted to) treat heart disease. But I did learn many other things, and the list of sources in the notes/bibliography is priceless. If you are not a doctor and need a brief overview of medicine up to the year 1600, this is the place to start.


Philip Pormann's Medieval Islamic Medicine is also very good. As Siraisi explains, medieval medicine from Andalusia through Central Asia basically drew on the same heritage: classical Greek texts. The main thing that changed was who knew what when.