Friday, February 08, 2008

New---Images Of Civil War Medicine: A Photographic History

Images of Civil War Medicine: A Photographic History, Gordon Dammann and Alfred Jay Bollett, Demos Medical Publishing, 201 pp., index, endnotes, illustrated, $34.95.

Gordon Dammann, author of the Pictorial Encyclopedia of Civil War Medical Instruments and Equipment (1998)and Alfred Jay Bollet, author of Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs (2002) have compiled an essential guide to the development of medical photography, medical education, nursing, ambulances, hospitals, wounds and diseases during the American Civil War. Heavily illustrated with period photographs and narrated with an accessible style, this slim but thorough book contains the anecdotes and the statistics that are necessary to attractively tell the story of Civil War medicine. Cartes de visite, that is calling cards with the bearer's photograph, of Union and Confederate surgeons are offered in their own chapter. My favorite is Surgeon james B. Armbleton of the 35th Georgia. Wearing a winter coat with a shawl collar that appears to be trellis-stripped and a size too large, Armbleton has the appearance of an adventurous scholar. His short-crowned hat today would be associated with an ante-bellum riverboat professional gambler. Those readers who subscribe to Civil War Historian that focuses on the era's material culture will appreciate Dammann's and Bollet's work.

Nearly half of Images of Civil War Medicine: A Photographic History features the hospitals, wounds and diseases of the conflict. Gleaning significant details from The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, Union surgeons Silas Weir Mitchell's and Jonathan Letterman's post-war writings, Dammann and Bollet, review the work in hospitals, both Union and Confederate, East and West. I suspect no other publication has more photographs of Civil War hospitals than Images of Civil War Medicine: A Photographic History.

This volume is likely to be appreciated by both the general reader and the one who has read deeply in the topic. Images of Civil War Medicine: A Photographic History, suitable for public, school and academic libraries.

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