In the years following World War II, medicine won major battles against smallpox, diphtheria, and polio. In the same period it also produced treatments to control the progress of Parkinson's, rheumatoid arthritis, and schizophrenia. It made realities of open-heart surgery, organ transplants, test-tube babies. Unquestionably, the medical accomplishments of the postwar years stand at the forefront of human endeavor, yet progress in recent decades has slowed nearly to a halt.
In this judicious examination of medicine in our times, which has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, medical doctor and columnist James Le Fanu both surveys the glories of medicine in the postwar years and analyzes the factors that for the past twenty-five years have increasingly widened the gulf between achievement and advancement: the social theories of medicine, ethical issues, and political debates over health care that have hobbled the development of vaccines and discovery of new "miracle" cures.
While fully demonstrating the extraordinary progress effected by medical research in the latter half of the twentieth century, Le Fanu also identifies the perils that confront medicine in the twenty-first century.
"[From] a respected science writer . . . important information that . . . has been overlooked or ignored by many physicians." —New Republic
"Provocative and engrossing and informative." —Houston Chronicle
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