This is the Top Ten Social History of American Medicine Booklists. First, why did we leave Paul Starr’s The Social Transformation of American Medicine (Basic Books, 1984) off this Top Ten list? It is perhaps the best known American medical history book, and it is an essential reference. Pretty much anyone who has written about the history of American medicine has cited it. Should you read it? Yes. Check it out or buy it and skim the parts that interest you. It is probably the one book on the list that most historians are aware of and that is why we left it off.
The Battle of Waterloo is one of the most famous battles in history. The battle was between, France on side and Great Britain, Prussia and their allies on the other. The battle was a great victory for the British and the Prussians and it is widely seen as the end of the series of wars that had ravaged Europe since the French Revolution (1789). The Battle of Waterloo was the last attempt by Napoleon to establish himself in France and Europe, after his defeat in 1814. This article will discuss the reasons for the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, these include stubborn British resistance, their superior cavalry, Wellington’s leadership and, most importantly, the timely arrival of the Prussian army on the battlefield.
Napoleon has become the master of most of Europe by 1805 after his victory over the Austrians and the Russians at the Battle of Austerlitz. For several years Napoleon and France dominated Europe and only the British continued to oppose Bonaparte’s ambitions. Napoleon decided to invade the Russian Empire, to force the Tsar to join a trade embargo on Britain. The French army marched into Russian and captured Moscow, but it disintegrated in the terrible Russian winter. Napoleon retreated back into Europe and in the process lost the majority of his army. The French Empire was severely weakened after the Russian Invasion and eventually the allies, (Britain, Russian, Austria and Prussia) marched into France and deposed Napoleon and restored the Bourbon Monarchy. Napoleon was exiled on the island of Elba in 1814.
The Battle of Austerlitz also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors was one of the most important battles in European History. It was also Napoleon’s greatest victory. At the battle, Napoleon’s employed a brilliant strategy to defeat the combined forces of the Russian and the Austrian Empires. The victory of the French stunned Europe and meant that they were masters of Europe, for a brief period of time. This article will discuss the reasons for the French victory, this will include Napoleon’s military genius, the superiority of the French army and poor Allied decision-making.
After a string of brilliant victories, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the France. By 1805, his armies had proven victorious in Germany, Spain, and Italy and he was the most powerful man in Europe. This prompted the other powers in Europe to form the Third Coalition in order to defeat the French. This Coalition included England, Russia, Prussia and Austria. The formation of this alliance caught Napoleon off guard. He had been planning for the invasion of England and had amassed a large army in northern France, known as the Army of England. However, he learned that Austria, Prussia, and the Russians were mobilizing and planned to attack the French and their allies. Napoleon abandoned his plans to invade England and decided to attack his enemies in the east before they could unite their forces. This was typical of Napoleon who was always willing to go on the attack and believed that the key to success was to never let the enemy to settle and attack them before they were in a position to attack the French.
The Weimar Republic was Germany’s first experiment in democracy. It was founded after the aftermath of the German defeat in World War I. The Republic faced many challenges during its short life. It was undermined by right and left wing extremists and the military. Many have seen the fall of the Weimar Republic as inevitable, however, it could have succeeded but for the economic calamity of the Great Depression.
After the failure of the last great German offensive in the western front in 1918, it was clear that Germany would lose the war. Because of the war and the Allied blockade many Germans were on the verge of starvation. There were waves of strikes and communists and socialists were actively demonstrating against the government. The German Field Marshal Ludendorf, who had effectively been the military dictator of Germany was dismissed and the Imperial government sought to make peace with the allies. As the government was negotiating peace terms with the Allies, a revolution broke out in German. Workers went on strike and established committees that seized control of many urban centers. In response, the Social Democrat leader Erbert demanded to become Chancellor of Germany. He and others declared the Weimar Republic in November 1918. Soon after elections were held and the Social Democrats formed the first government. The Constitution of the Weimar Republic established it as a ‘presidential republic’.
Early medicine developed in a number of societies, both in the New and Old Worlds, as populations around the world were able to quickly learn that plants that grew around them often have natural healing qualities and health benefits. Several regions around the world, which had early complex societies, have left us evidence or documents that describe some of the relatively sophisticated medical techniques or practices that developed at early dates.
Egypt and Mesopotamia arguably developed the first true urban and complex societies anywhere. As these societies were literate at an early date, we also obtain relatively early information about important medical knowledge already known in the ancient world.
In both Mesopotamia and Egypt, healers or what are equivalent to physicians had exists probably by the 3rd millennium BC. However, these early physicians were often priests who integrated their healing practices with medical techniques as well as religious practices, including prayers or even forms of exorcisms.
The Edwin Smith papyrus (ca. 1600 BC; Figure 1) is a famous example that is the first known text to deal with traumatic injuries, perhaps even battlefield wounds. It also deals with dislocations, tumors, and bone fractures. The text provides diagnoses of different injuries and ailments, where the physician, unlike most other Egyptian texts, proceeds with a more scientific approach. The physician seems to understand the concept of a pulse and diagnosis of specific ailments; different treatments are prescribed such as bandaging, suturing the wounds, and stopping the bleeding.
Common languages are an integral part of linguistic development in the ancient world, as often such languages influence subsequent languages and help unify or economically and politically integrate populations over a wide territory. The ancient Near East displays some of the world’s earliest common languages shared by several states and population groups. The earliest lingua franca is perhaps Akkadian. However, it is not clear if this language was spoken and written very widely, as it may have been more utilized by the elites from different regions, such as the political establishments.
Colonial Americans enjoyed relative independence from England until 1763, which marked the cessation of the Seven Years’ War. Prior to that time, the British government had paid little attention to the domestic affairs conducted by their American colonists. The war was costly; however, and England deemed it appropriate that American colonies contribute to the war debt and the costs associated with stationing British troops on American soil. The British government assessed taxes on the colonies yet denied colonists the right to Parliamentary representation in the House of Commons. As a result, Americans saw themselves as being subordinates to the Crown rather than as equal members of the British Empire, thus prompting the colonists to rebel against their mother country in the name of liberty. Parliament’s actions fostered a sense of rebellion amongst the inhabitants of America, while Thomas Paine unleashed a patriotic fervor throughout the colonies that solidified a nation.
Englishmen and Americans alike were filled with British pride following the successful conclusion of the Seven Years’ War. Americans, who were separated both geographically and governmentally from England, felt a renewed sense of kinship with their British brethren. This attitude began to change when King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited colonial expansion west of the Appalachian Mountains. Not accustomed to Crown intervention pertaining to domestic affairs, agitation began to stir amongst rebellious colonists.