The Greatest Benefit to Mankind

A Medical History of Humanity

The Norton History of Science


Roy Porter (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book

"To combine enormous knowledge with a delightful style and a highly idiosyncratic point of view is Roy Porter's special gift, and it makes [this] book . . . alive and fascinating and provocative on every page."—Oliver Sacks, M.D.

Hailed as "a remarkable achievement" (Boston Sunday Globe) and as "a triumph: simultaneously entertaining and instructive, witty and thought-provoking . . . a splendid and thoroughly engrossing book" (Los Angeles Times), Roy Porter's charting of the history of medicine affords us an opportunity as never before to assess its culture and science and its costs and benefits to mankind. Porter explores medicine's evolution against the backdrop of the wider religious, scientific, philosophical, and political beliefs of the culture in which it develops, covering ground from the diseases of the hunter-gatherers to today's threat of AIDS and ebola, from the clearly defined conviction of the Hippocratic oath to the muddy ethical dilemmas of modern-day medicine. Offering up a treasure trove of historical surprises along the way, this book "has instantly become the standard single-volume work in its field" (The Lancet). "The author's perceptiveness is, as usual, scalpel-sharp; his manner genially bedside; his erudition invigorating." - Simon Schama

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • October 1999
  • ISBN 978-0-393-31980-4
  • 6.1 × 9.2 in / 872 pages
  • Sales Territory: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.


Also by Roy Porter All

  1. Book CoverBlood and Guts: A Short History of Medicine


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


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


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