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In its Salient Features
WALTER LIBBY, M.A., Ph.D.
TO THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE"
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
In the closing days of 1917 I was asked to give a course of lectures on the history of medicine. This book is the outcome of my attempt to comply with the request made at that time. The course of lectures, given in the first place in the early weeks of 1918, followed the lines of the present table of contents. My auditors were third-year students in one of the American Schools of Medicine, and the plan of presentation was more or less consciously dictated, at the start, by the recollection of what had chal. lenged my curiosity and aroused my attention about the time I had attained a like standing as a student of medicine. Questions and class discussions evoked by the lectures in 1918 and the three subsequent years suggested, however, certain modifications of the initial treatment of the subject and indicated in what directions additions and elucidations were most desirable.
Even at the outset I felt sure that the course would be of greater interest to the men if I could trace the development of medicine, however succinctly, from the earliest times till the present day. I began, therefore, with an account of the dawn of medical science in Egypt and Babylonia, in spite of
the imperfect state of the records and their need of interpretation. Nor could I refrain - in April,
1918 — from saying at least something concerning “Medical Science and Modern Warfare," although the time had obviously not arrived for setting forth adequately the medical aspects of the World War. Similarly, the distribution of space as regards ancient and modern medicine, the emphasis of what seemed to me the most important stages in the evolution of medicine, the avoidance of unnecessary details and of needlessly abstruse terminology, as well as the general style of composition, have their explanation in the nature of the audience before whom and of the circumstances in which the course of lectures was given. By the use of simple reading lists, now represented by the References at the ends of the chapters, I hoped so to interest the students that they would soon become capable of constructing their own bibliographies, and that from the perusal of Allbutt, Garrison, Guerini, Hyrtl, Meunier, Osler, Singer, Sudhoff, Withington, and other authorities brought to their particular attention, they might pass to an examination of Baas-Handerson, Buck, Choulant, Daremberg, Diels, Friend, Haeser, Holländer, Ideler, Ilberg, Le Clerc, Littré, MeyerSteineg, Neuburger, Pagel, Puschmann, Schelenz, Schwalbe, Sprengel, Wellmann, Wickersheimer, and other more or less distinguished writers on the his