Dictionary of Medical Biography [5 Volumes]

W F Bynum (Editor) Helen Bynum (Editor)


Treating and preventing disease has always been one of the most important tasks in a society, and that task ultimately falls to one of the most respected and admired figures in any culture--the healer. This respect is understandable --medical practictioners ease pain, prolong life, and prevent disesase, making them among the most important figures in the daily lives of people everywhere. The Dictionary of Medical Biography provides authoritative biographical coverage of major medical practitioners in all times and cultures. While its emphasis is on practitioners within the Western medical tradition, it also covers practitioners of alternative medicines, as well as major figures within traditional Chinese, Indian, and Islamic medicine. In addition, special essays survey these medical traditions, which are more difficult to appreciate within a biographical framework. Overall, the Dictionary of Medical Biography concentrates on the nuances of medical practice, and the social context within which ideas of health, disease, and therapy exist.

The most complete work of its kind, the Dictionary of Medical Biography is essential for any library that serves those who seek to understand the importance of medicine in the lives of people everywhere.

Product Details

Publish Date
December 30, 2006
9.25 X 5.5 X 11.5 inches | 13.0 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

W. F. Bynum is Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine at University College London and was head of the Academic Unit of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine (1973-1996). His publications include the Dictionary of the History of Science, Science and the Practice of Medicine in the 19th Century, and the Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations.

Helen Bynum is a freelance historian of science and medicine. She was a Wellcome Trust Lecturer in the History of Medicine at Liverpool (1996-2000). Her publications include Tropical Medicine in the 20th Century and Body and City.


"W. F. Bynum and Helen Bynum have edited a work of authoritative biographical coverage, which concentrates on the nuances of medical practice and the social context within which ideas of health, disease, and therapy exist. This five-volume work drew on leading medical scholars worldwide to write biographies of 1,140 individuals. Biographical entries reflect the accomplishments of the various health professionals within the broader context of the social history of medicine. This dictionary is meant as a complement, in internationalism and breadth of coverage, to the international reference standard covering people in the world of medicine, the Dictionary of Scientific Biography (1970-80), edited by C. C. Gillispie. The first volume begins with specially commissioned authoritative essays, which survey the major themes within the principal medical traditions of the world. Entries routinely include a bibliography of both primary and secondary sources. Readers will appreciate the final volume's comprehensive index and the appendixes of individuals organized by country, field of activity, and birth/death years. Recommended. Lower-/upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and general readers." - Choice
"With coverage ranging from Afghanistan (Al-Biruni) to Zambia (medical missionary David Livingstone), from Egyptian Father of Medicine Imhotep (c. 2686-30 B.C.E.) to Swiss-born psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (d. 2004), this dictionary will be a boon for students and researchers of medical history....Although Western medicine is emphasized, with surgery the most frequently appearing specialty, patrons seeking information on alternative and traditional medical practices will not be disappointed. Medical and larger academic and public libraries will find this unique and comprehensive source well worth its price." - Library Journal
"[F]ills a long-standing gap in English-language reference sources in the history of medicine....[G]oes way beyond English-speaking and Continental physicians to include practitioners from around the world. The editors, W.F. Bynum and Helen Bynum, recruited an international editorial board of historians of medicine so that the coverage would be cosmopolitan....[A] major reference resource for all academic libraries." - ISIS
"This is an impressive addition to the existing number of dictionaries of medical or scientific biography which, given the potential of the subject, is still limited in scope. This dictionary is particularly to be welcomed for its inclusive coverage across medical systems, time periods and cultures....The principle editors have been meticulous in their compilation of what has been a massive scholarly enterprise....this Dictionary of Medical Biography should prove to be an essential reference tool in the social history of medicine, as well as an aid for absorbing browsing." - Medical History
"International in scope, the 1,140 medical biographies are written by a collection of 384 medical scholars from around the globe and range from ancient history to the present. They represent the social changes and major trends in medicine....The encyclopedia's editors, W.F. and Helen Bynum, have done a good job in making the information eminently accessible as well as aesthetically appealing. Each volume includes a list of all entries, and handsome black-and-white photographs and illustrations enhance and augment the text." - College & Research Libraries
"These volumes provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of medicine and a social context within which to explore the lives and ideas of major figures in the field. Entries are well written, engaging, and full of useful information for students, researchers, and curious readers in general. The Dictionary of Medical is highly recommended for high school, public, community college, medical, and academic libraries." - American Reference Books Annual
"[F]ills a big gap....The Bynums have probably produced as good a Dictionary of Medical Biography as could be compiled. No one is more qualified to organize large projects: W.F. Bynum placed the recent history of medicine on the map and demonstrated how energy and imagination could combine to bring scholars together to work in groups. His and Helen Bynum's Dictionary of Medical Biography is a fitting culmination to two distinguished careers." - Times Literary Supplement
"The most complete work of its kind, the Dictionary of Medical Biography is essential for any library that services those who seek to understand the importance of medicine in the lives of people everywhere. There is simply no modern biographical dictionary of medicine in any language that is comparable to this in size of scope." - Reference Reviews
"Undoubtedly these volumes will become the standard work in this field....[a] valuable testament to the origins of the breadth and depth required for the long evolution of a learned profession." - The Lancet
"Although the study of medical history is no longer focused on the lives of prominent physicians, biography remains integral to the field. The extensive and thoughtfully conceived Dictionary of Medical Biography is therefore valuable. Its five volumes offer much to those who are interested professionally or avocationally in the development of the fields of clinical medicine, medical science, and public health....Both a substantial compilation of scholarship and a notable administrative feat, the Dictionary of Medical Biography seems likely to find a variety of uses and users. It will aid historians, serve as a resource for students, and provide health professionals and medical scientists with historical knowledge that will deepen their perspective and enhance their teaching and writing. It also offers fine browsing." - The New England Journal of Medicine
"The Dictionary of Medical Biography is not a dry collection of facts that only a keen student or a medical historian might pore over. Rather, the insightful and well written essays go beyond merely listing individuals and recording their medical or scientific achievements. For one thing, the articles illustrate the contrasting personalities of some of modern medicine's unlikely champions....In a world where Western medicine dominates, it is easy to ignore the diverse and distinct systems of medicine still prevalent around the world. Helpfully, this dictionary includes introductory essays on Islamic, Chinese, South Asian, South East Asian, and Japanese systems of medicine, guiding readers to biographies of interest. Biographies are written not only to inform but also to inspire. This compendium is a wonderful counter to Oscar Wilde's cynicism-Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography." - British Medical Journal
"Ask someone to name an important figure in the history of science, and the familiar names of Einstein or Edison might be the immediate responses. But try to recall a celebrated doctor, medical researcher, or health-care activist, and many of us will be forced to think hard. With the Dictionary of Medical Biography, we now have a valuable tool to remind us of who the major individuals are and what role they played in medical history....[a] significant investment, its quality makes is a worthwhile purchase for academic and large public libraries." - Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin
"This exemplary resource, assembled with the help of almost 400 contributors, comprises biographies of well over 1000 individuals from the medical field, along with a series of essays describing medical traditions around the world. While major figures like Galen, Pasteur, and Nightingale are included, so, too, is Vladimir Negovskii, a Ukranian who pioneered the use of cardiac massage in resuscitation." - Library Journal 2006 Best Reference
"While this five-volume work includes the major figures of Western medicine from Hippocrates and Galen onwards among its 1,140 biographical entries, it also aims for a cosmopolitan approach that will allow the audience to gain an appreciation for the medical traditions of other geographical regions. Accordingly, it opens with introductory essays on the Western medical tradition; the Islamic medical tradition; medicine in China; medical traditions South Asia; medical traditions in Southeast Asia; and medicine, state, and society in Japan before turning to the individual alphabetical entries. Most entries focus on specific medical accomplishments and run about a page or less in length, but seminal figures naturally receive longer and broader treatment. Each entry provides a guide to primary and secondary bibliographic resources. Indexes list individuals by country, fields of activity, and birth/death dates. The material has been written to be understandable to a general undergraduate-level audience." - SciTech Book News