In its time, Rousset's book was translated into German and Latin; however, there is no known English translation. This is hardly surprising, since Latin was the lingua franca of the Church and European scholars until the 17th century. Rousset's motive for writing in French is explained in his preface: he wanted his message to reach the surgeons of the day, few of whom were proficient in Latin.
It seems only fitting that, after some 430 years, there should be available an
English translation of this seminal work. In some contries, one-quarter to one-third of women are now delivered by caesarean section, which is a continuing source of controversy in both the medical and the lay press. It therefore seems appropriate to review the text, which was also highly controversial four centuries ago, that first promoted the procedure.
In addition to the translation, the book contains an introduction by the translator and a commentary by the editor.
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Thomas F Baskett
Publication Date: September 2008
Retail Price: £80.00
Extent: 420 pages
Few specialties have a longer or richer eponymous background than obstetrics and gynaecology. Eponyms add a human side to an increasingly technical profession in which both the providers and recipients of medical care continue to crave the human touch and are diminished by its absence. This collection provides an introductory profile of some of the more significant and fascinating characters in whose steps we follow. It is not confined to eponyms but includes other notable names in the development of the specialty and several from other specialties whose contributions are relevant to obstetrics and gynaecology.
For each entry, biographical data are provided and the eponym or work for which they are known is outlined with context. Where available, the original and related references are provided. A bibliography of linked references will assist the reader wanting more detailed information on individual subjects.
Fifty-four new entries are included in this second edition bringing the total to 365 names from 33 countries. Considerable information has been added to most of the original names in the first edition. More portraits of individuals and have pictures of instruments and techniques are included and there are now more than 380 illustrations in the book.
This book will be of interest to anyone interested in obstetrics and gynaecology and will provide many hours of entertainment: once opened, it is hard to put down.
Reviews of this book can be found here.
Professor Geoffrey Chamberlain
Publication Date: July 2007
Retail Price: £80.00
Extent: 352 pages
From Witchcraft to Wisdom: A History of Obstetrics & Gynaecology in the British Isles tells the story of the development of childbearing since 1540. To tell a story of events which have developed over more than four hundred years is clearly a major task. Professor Chamberlain has undertaken this in a characteristically forthright fashion which holds the reader’s attention throughout. He tells how childbearing has gradually changed from an event so dangerous to the mother that many made their wills before labour began to the virtually pain-free deliveries of today; how gynaecological disorders have been studied and managed to the great relief of the modern woman.
Professor Chamberlain tells, also, of the battles which had to be fought with the surgeons, with the church and against public opinion to bring these advances about. He does not limit his account to the professionals in these fields, however, but tells his story against a background of significant social and historical events which have occurred in the British Isles and, when necessary, abroad, which will be of interest to health workers of all kinds and to sociologists as well.
He intrigues the reader with fascinating quotations from a variety of sources, some of which posterity has proved correct and others history has shown to be lamentably wrong. A notable feature of the book is the use of ‘boxes’ which appear in parallel with the main text, in which an individual of special importance or a development of particular significance can be given more detailed attention without interrupting the flow of the text itself. Frequent illustrations further increase the interest of this fine book.