Public Health and the US Military : A History of the Army Medical Department, 1818-1917 book cover
1st Edition

Public Health and the US Military
A History of the Army Medical Department, 1818-1917

ISBN 9781138867567
Published April 23, 2015 by Routledge
292 Pages

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Book Description

Public Health and the US Military is a cultural history of the US Army Medical Department focusing on its accomplishments and organization coincident with the creation of modern public health in the Progressive Era. A period of tremendous social change, this time bore witness to the creation of an ideology of public health that influences public policy even today. The US Army Medical Department exerted tremendous influence on the methods adopted by the nation’s leading civilian public health figures and agencies at the turn of the twentieth century.

Public Health and the US Military also examines the challenges faced by military physicians struggling to win recognition and legitimacy as expert peers by other Army officers and within the civilian sphere. Following the experience of typhoid fever outbreaks in the volunteer camps during the Spanish-American War, and the success of uniformed researchers and sanitarians in confronting yellow fever and hookworm disease in Cuba and Puerto Rico, the Medical Department’s influence and reputation grew in the decades before the First World War. Under the direction of sanitary-minded medical officers, the Army Medical Department instituted critical public health reforms at home and abroad, and developed a model of sanitary tactics for wartime mobilization that would face its most critical test in 1917.

The first large conceptual overview of the role of the US Army Medical Department in American society during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this book details the culture and quest for legitimacy of an institution dedicated to promoting public health and scientific medicine.

Table of Contents

@contents:Introduction. Waging Health—The US Army Medical Officer’s Quest for Identity and Legitimacy 1. Practice, Status, Public Health and the Army Medical Officer, 1818-1890. 2. The Medical Officer in "The New School of Scientific Medicine", 1861-1898. 3. The Other War of 1898: The Army Medical Department’s Struggle with Disease in the Volunteer Camps 4. Making the Tropics Fit for White Men: Army Public Health in the American Imperial Periphery, 1898-1914. 5. The Ascendance of Sanitation in the Army Medical Department and the Quest for Preparedness, 1901-1917. 6. Vice and the Soldier: The Army Medical Department and Public Health as Morality, 1890-1917

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Bobby Wintermute is an Assistant Professor of History at Queens College, City University of New York. He received his PhD from Temple University in 2006. The US Army Center of Military History, the Army Heritage Center Foundation, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and the Rockefeller Archive Center supported the research and writing of this book.


‘For anyone who has wondered how the US Army Medical Department grew to achieve so much after such a baptism of fire in the Civil War, this book will fill in many of the gaps and complete a riveting story.’Nicholas Coni, Royal Society of Medicine

‘Although not the first study of the U.S. Army Medical Department in recent decades, this is nonetheless a superb piece of research. Its strength lies in the author’s choice to focus not on combat medicine but rather on the transformative efforts of several talented surgeons general, and the endeavors of their sanitarians and researchers to achieve identity and gain legitimacy from the army and the public. The path to legitimacy, while strewn with impediments that Bobby A. Wintermute expertly details, was largely laid out by the time of America’s entry into World War II.’ John S. Haller Jr., Emeritus, Journal of American History, Southern Illinois University, USA

'Bobby A. Wintermute's new book consciously eschews battlefield medicine to demonstrate how military physicians used the field of public health to attain and maintain professional status in their separate–and sometimes competing–realms. In so doing, he has created a valuable resource for military and medical historians alike.' – CHOICE