Blood and Guts

A Short History of Medicine

Roy Porter (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book

"Ideas tumble out of Porter like wonders from some scholarly horn of plenty." —Sherwin B. Nuland, The New Republic

An eminently readable, entertaining romp through the history of our vain and valiant efforts to heal ourselves. Mankind's battle to stay alive and healthy for as long as possible is our oldest, most universal struggle. With his characteristic wit and vastly informed historical scope, Roy Porter examines the war fought between disease and doctors on the battleground of the flesh from ancient times to the present. He explores the many ingenious ways in which we have attempted to overcome disease through the ages: the changing role of doctors, from ancient healers, apothecaries, and blood-letters to today's professionals; the array of drugs, from Ayurvedic remedies to the launch of Viagra; the advances in surgery, from amputations performed by barbers without anesthetic to today's sophisticated transplants; and the transformation of hospitals from Christian places of convalescence to modern medical powerhouses. Cleverly illustrated with historic line drawings, the chronic ailments of humanity provide vivid anecdotes for Porter's enlightening story of medicine's efforts to prevail over a formidable and ever-changing adversary.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • June 2004
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32569-0
  • 5.4 × 8 in / 224 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth and the European Union.

Endorsements & Reviews

“[C]hock-full of astonishing facts and fascinating illustrations…Surprisingly light and lively.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A delightful and informative introduction to an important subject by one of the outstanding scholars of his generation.” — Gerald N. Grob, Ph.D., New England Journal of Medicine

“A short, brilliant survey of medicine—its blood and guts—from antiquity to today.” — Deborah Love, Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Porter weaves together...plenty of anecdotes and illustrations with an easy, informal writing style.” — Donna Chavez, Booklist

Also by Roy Porter All

  1. Book CoverThe Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment


  2. Book CoverFlesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul


  3. Book CoverThe Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity


All Subjects