Living in the Shadow of Death
Tuberculosis and the Social Experience of Illness in American History
Tuberculosis—once the cause of as many as one in five deaths in the U.S.—crossed all boundaries of class and gender, but the methods of treatment for men and women differed radically. While men were encouraged to go out to sea or to the open country, women were expected to stay at home, surrounded by family, to anticipate a lingering death. Several women, however, chose rather to head for the drier climates of the West and build new lives on their own. But with the discovery of the tubercle bacillus in 1882 and the establishment of sanatoriums, both men and women were relegated to lives of seclusion, sacrificing autonomy for the prospect of a cure.
In Living in the Shadow of Death Sheila Rothman presents the story of tuberculosis from the perspective of those who suffered, and in doing so helps us to understand the human side of the disease—and to cope with its resurgence. The letters, diaries, and journals piece together what it was like to experience tuberculosis, and eloquently reveal the tenacity and resolve with which people faced it.
About the Author
Sheila M. Rothman is Research Scholar at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the Program on Human Rights and Medicine. She is author of Women's Proper Place.
A 1994 Notable Book of the Year
[A] remarkable book... Elegantly composed... It is written, and splendidly so, out of compassion for victims, respect for their courage and hope that their stories will enlighten us about current afflictions. Suffering is the books' compelling theme: not the genius of scientists but the pain and tenacity of the sick... [Rothman's] book is invested with a modestly humane hope that the past can teach us something useful... At stake is our collective civility as much as our health.
[A] moving account of what is was like to live in the shadow of death.
This is great reading, an illness narrative that dramatically illustrates how an exceptional, atypical life can inform historical knowledge.
[A] graceful and lucid history.
Remarkably relevant. [ Living in the Shadow of Death] conveys a troubling sense of déjà vu in a decade when we face both the AIDS epidemic and the recrudescence of tuberculosis itself; and it is important reading for those caught up in efforts to deal both effectively and humanely with either.
A fascinating and powerful book... compelling reading. Tuberculosis was a disease, now reemerging, that killed more Americans, young or old, rich or poor, than any other disease, until well into the twentieth century. It shaped our culture, determined careers, blighted lives. Rothman writes beautifully and with great sensitivity about the human condition. The book will, I believe, become a classic in the field.
Dr Rothman has hit a home run. Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball is not only a fine book to read, but a text which can also serve as an excellent resource book.
Other Titles in MEDICAL / History
Other Titles in History of medicine