Disease and Medicine in World History: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Disease and Medicine in World History

1st Edition

By Sheldon Watts


176 pages

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Paperback: 9780415278171
pub: 2003-06-19
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Disease and Medicine in World History is a concise introduction to diverse ideas about diseases and their treatment throughout the world. Drawing on case studies from ancient Egypt to present-day America, Asia and Europe, this survey discusses concepts of sickness and forms of treatment in many cultures.

Sheldon Watts shows that many medical practices in the past were shaped as much by philosophers and metaphysicians as by university-trained doctors and other practitioners.

Subjects covered include:

  • Pharaonic Egypt and the pre-conquest New World
  • the evolution of medical systems in the Middle East
  • health and healing on the Indian subcontinent
  • medicine and disease in China
  • the globalization of disease in the modern world
  • the birth and evolution of modern scientific medicine.

This volume is a landmark contribution to the field of world history. It covers the principal medical systems known in the world, based on extensive original research. Watts raises questions about globalization in medicine and the potential impact of infectious diseases in the present day.


"Sheldon Watts has established a reputation as one of the world's premier scholars on global disease and medicine. Disease and Medicine in World History offers an insightful and provocative analysis of medical thought and practice situated securely in their social and cultural contexts." - Jerry H. Bentley, University of Hawaii

About the Author

Sheldon Watts is a visiting professor of history at the American University in Cairo. He is the author of Epidemics and History: Disease, Power and Imperialism (Yale, 1997).

About the Series

Themes in World History

The Themes in World History series provides exciting, new and wide-ranging surveys of the important themes of world history. Each theme is examined over a broad period of time allowing analysis of continuities and change, and introduces students to historians' methods and debates in their context.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HEALTH & FITNESS / Diseases / General
HISTORY / General
MEDICAL / History