Health and Medicine through History
From Ancient Practices to 21st-Century Innovations
by Ruth Clifford Engs, Editor
August 2019, 1127pp, 7x10
3 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5891-8
$335, £258, 292€, A459
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5892-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Preserving health and combating sickness have always been among humanity’s top priorities, but our beliefs and concerns about how to do so have evolved dramatically since ancient times.

This three-volume set provides a comprehensive yet concise global exploration of health and medicine from ancient times to the present day, helping readers to trace the development of concepts and practices around the world.

From archaeological evidence of trepanning during prehistoric times to medieval Europe’s conception of the four humors to present-day epidemics of diabetes and heart disease, health concerns and medical practices have changed considerably throughout the centuries.

Health and Medicine through History: From Ancient Practices to 21st-Century Innovations is broken down into four distinct time periods: antiquity through the Middle Ages, the 15th through 18th centuries, the 19th century, and the 20th century and beyond. Each of these sections features the same 13-chapter structure, touching on a diverse array of topics such as women’s health, medical institutions, common diseases, and representations of sickness and healing in the arts.

Coverage is global, with the histories of the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania compared and contrasted throughout. The book also features a large collection of primary sources, including document excerpts and statistical data. These resources offer readers valuable insights and foster analytical and critical thinking skills.


  • Offers a comprehensive yet concise view of the subject, covering all of human history and all inhabited regions of the world within approachable sections
  • Allows readers to trace the evolution of different aspects of health and medicine, helping them to understand why and how our understanding of health has changed over time
  • Includes a curated collection of over 100 primary sources to give readers a first-hand look at many aspects of health during different historical time periods around the world
  • Follows a standardized chapter structure that makes finding information on specific aspects of health and medicine and comparing/contrasting these aspects from one time period to another easy
Ruth Clifford Engs, RN, EdD, is professor emerita of applied health science in the School of Public Health at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is author of numerous articles, chapters, and books. Her publications with ABC-CLIO include The Eugenics Movement: An Encyclopedia, The Progressive Era's Health Reform Movement: A Historical Dictionary, and Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform.


2019 Award Finalist in the "Health: General" Category—Best Book Awards, American Book Fest, November 13, 2019

2020 Outstanding Reference Source—Reference and User Services Association [RUSA], January 26, 2020


"This inspired look at the evolution of health and medicine will appeal to the general public and undergraduate students."—Library Journal, December 1, 2019

"The scope and the assortment of primary sources make this an excellent resource for students of history, the health sciences, religion, and environmental studies. Academic and large public libraries will find it very useful."—Booklist Online, December 1, 2019

"Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Students enrolled in two-year technical programs."—Choice, June 1, 2020
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