Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Review--The Encyclopedia of Civil War Medicine

Schroeder-Lein, Glenna R. The Encyclopedia of Civil War Medicine. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., Armonk, NY. 2012. Index, bibliography, b/w illustrations. 421 pages, 348 pages of text. ISBN 9780765621306, $34.95.


For those of us who don't have an extensive science or medical background we will often come across a term we are unsure of or would like more information on. Where should we turn? The answer is the recently released paperback edition of The Encyclopedia of Civil War Medicine. Now available at a more wallet friendly price this is a book that any serious Civil War student should consider putting on their bookshelf. It will be referred to many times.

Arranged alphabetically by subject there are a wide array of topics covered. Individual battles such as Antietam, Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and others all have their own entries. Medical issues related to the specific battle are covered in these entries. Some of the other topics covered include hospitals, various diseases, types of wounds and treatments, relief organizations, medical curiosities, and many of the doctors and nurses who played such a vital role in the war effort. This reviewer was particularly happy to find Dr. Esther Hill Hawks included. She was one of the rare female doctors working during the war. Post war she and her husband played a large role in founding the area in which I now reside.

Each topic receives a brief discussion; most entries being two or three pages. More important topics sometimes receive a longer treatment. Each topic includes a list of suggested topics readers may want to follow up on. For each topic bibliographic information is included with titles ranging from one to five. A full twelve page bibliography is also included at the conclusion of the book.

The book is visually appealing and the font is such as to make for easy reading. I would have like to see a few more photos included but that's really a minor quibble for a work such as this. The topics I have read are accessible and the writing clear and therein lies the value of this book. This looks to be a book that will be kept handy and used regularly.

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