Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: smallpox

  • Book review: Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom Simon Schama, the eminent historian and broadcaster, has turned his attention to medical history. His new book, gestated and born during the COVID pandemic, is a chronicle of three pandemic diseases that have afflicted humans for centuries: smallpox, cholera, and plague. He opens the book with a quote from Pliny…

  • John Walker, vaccinator extraordinaire

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Medicine has bred many odd but audacious characters, eccentrics, polymaths and “truants.” One might argue that those characteristics attracted such people to careers in medicine: a chicken and egg dilemma. Conversely, some have argued that modern regulated uniformity has infected medicine and stultified originality. A little-known medical eccentric and heretic…

  • Diagnosis: Neurosyphilis. Treatment: Malaria, iatrogenic

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Patient in Kettering hypertherm cabinet undergoing fever therapy. New Orleans, 1937. U.S. Marine Hospital. Works Progress Administration photo. New Orleans Public Library Digital Collections via Wikimedia. Public domain. “The syphilitic man was thinking hard…about how to get his legs to step off the curb and carry him across Washington Street.…

  • “Killed By Vaccination”: the enduring currency of a nineteenth century illogic

    Saty Satya-Murti Santa Maria, California, United States   Fig. 1. William Young’s 1886 pamphlet alleging that smallpox vaccinations slaughter and kill. Source: Wellcome Collection. In Public Domain. Vaccine misinformation and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories are not new but have acquired a combative energy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly all the arguments now raised against vaccination were…

  • Book review: Medicine in the Middle Ages

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom In the history of Western Europe, the Middle Ages refers to the period between the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century through the beginning of the Renaissance in the 1500s. These thousand years were characterized by unstable nation-states led by kings and nobility. Tribalism was rife, and…

  • “God Helps Them That Help Themselves”: Poor Richard and the inoculation controversy

    Stewart Justman Missoula, Montana, United States   Poor Richard, 1739. An Almanack for the Year of Christ 1739. Benjamin Franklin Library of Congress Rare Book & Special Collections Division. Via Wikimedia. Before vaccination there was inoculation, and long before opposition to vaccination for Covid-19 there was furious resistance to the practice of inoculating for smallpox.…

  • Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

    Portrait of Joseph Haydn. by Thomas Hardy. 1791. Royal College of Music Museum of Instruments. Via Wikimedia. For nearly half of his life Joseph Haydn occupied the humble position of musician in the service of the Esterhazy princes, wearing livery and playing his wonderful compositions while the guests at dinner most likely only half- listened…

  • Review: The History of the World in 100 Pandemics, Plagues and Epidemics

    Arpan Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover: The History of the World in 100 pandemics, plagues and epidemics. The publication of this book could not have been better timed. The book sets out to show how pandemics, epidemics, and infectious diseases have shaped human history over the last 5,000 years. Its contents help us place…

  • Reconstructing memories and history in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

    Tonse N.K. RajuGaithersburg, Maryland, United States “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” In the opening sentence of his extraordinary masterpiece, Gabriel García Márquez distilled the recurring themes of One Hundred Years of Solitude1: the absurdity…

  • “An ounce of prevention”: past and present

    Jack E. Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States Donald R. Newcomer Glendale, Arizona, United States   Benjamin Franklin 1706–1790. Writer, publisher, philosopher, postmaster, scientist, diplomat. The Saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is commonly attributed to Franklin. Image credit: Painting by Joseph Duplessis, circa 1785. National Portrait Gallery NPG.87.43. Via…