BOOKS ABOUT MEDICINE AND SCIENCE
Also, please see Books About Infectious Disease.
The Social Transformation of American Medicine
Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology
The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character
The Social Transformation of American Medicine, by Paul Starr
A 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner, The Social Transformation of American Medicine traces the development of capital-M Medicine in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Dividing this history into essentially two movements -- "the rise of professional sovereignty" and "the transformation of medicine into an industry" -- Starr explores many shifts in attitude and fortune: from early suspicion to later devotion on the part of patients; from early isolation and financial insecurity to unison and prosperity on the part of doctors; and the institutionalization of both healthcare delivery and healthcare reimbursement. Starr gives particular attention to the development of private commercial indemnity insurance, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield. His book was begun at a time of transition, when it appeared that government was poised to take control of the healthcare system, and it was finished at a time when vaccine-preventable diseases were beginning to rise in the US in humiliating numbers, making children the casualties of a gutted public healthcare delivery system. Starr's book is a useful historical perspective of Medicine written at a crucial time.
Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology (revised edition), by Dorothy Nelkin
W.H. Freeman and Company
Published in 1987 and revised in 1995, Selling Science is a very interesting discussion of the process of writing about science, and it includes a chapter of "case histories" of recent scientific stories (ozone, aspartame, dioxin, and genetic engineering). It is partly historical, tracing the way that coverage of science has changed during the course of the 20th century. It is also descriptive, discussing the constraints of production in a journalistic setting and the conflict between the way science is done and the way stories are reported -- a conflict of both method and result. It also discusses the public relations activities of scientists and scientific institutions. This is a balanced and informative book that has no interest in pointing fingers and that expresses a sincere interest in contributing to the understanding of science on the part of lay people.
Public Understanding of Science is a journal devoted to the questions discussed in Selling Science.
The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character, by Daniel J. Kevles
W.W. Norton & Company
Daniel Kevles analyzed this debacle in a May 1996 article in The New Yorker just before Baltimore and Imanishi-Kari were exonerated from any wrongdoing. This book is a meticulous -- and meticulously referenced -- extension of that visit now that most of the dust has settled. The kooky heights to which the accusations fluttered in this case required an environment rich with anxiety, self-promotion, and short-sightedness. Kevles describes the disheartening blend of rebels with a cause, mean-spirited officials, and sloppy journalism that gave us this sustained and brutal attack on the integrity of American science. An infuriating read, and likely to remain the authoritative account.