Some notes about this list:
First, why did we leave Paul Starr’s The Social Transformation of American Medicine (Basic Books, 1984) off this Top Ten list? It is perhaps the best known American medical history book, and it is an essential reference. Pretty much anyone who has written about the history of American medicine has cited it. Should you read it? Yes. Check it out or buy it and skim the parts that interest you. It is probably the one book on the list that most historians are aware of and that is why we left it off. We also left off William Rothstein’s American Physicians in the Nineteenth Century: From Sects to Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, reprint edition 1992) and Judith Walzer Leavitt’s Brought to Bed: Child-Rearing in America, 1750-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1986) for similar reasons.
Second, we have only one book from Charles E. Rosenberg. We could have easily picked several books from him, but we did not want his books to take up the entire list. We picked The Cholera Years, because it is our favorite, but almost any of his other books could be on here.
Third, these books are in no particularly order. We don’t think number 1 is more important or better than number 10.
Finally, as is always the case, if you disagree with this list, please leave a comment explaining why we are wrong. Suggest a book and tell us which book should be removed from the list. If you make a strong case and convince us, we will happily revise this list.
1. Regina Morantz-Sanchez, Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: Medicine on Trial in Turn-of-the-Century Brooklyn, Oxford University Press, 2000.
2. Leslie Reagan, Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America, University of California Press, 2012.
3. Anderson, Warwick, Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines, Duke University Press, 2006.
4. Allan Brandt, No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States Since 1880, Oxford University Press, 1987.
5. Nayan Shah, Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown, University of California Press, 2001.
6. Martin Pernick, A Calculus of Suffering: Pain, Professionalism and Anesthesia in Nineteenth-Century America, Columbia University, 1987.
7. Colin Gordon, Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth-Century America, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.
8. Charles E. Rosenberg, The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866, University of Chicago Press, 1987.
9. Mohr, James, Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of a National Policy, New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.
10. Alexandra Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America, University of California Press, 2005.
Check out the DailyHistory.org Bookshelf at Powell’s Books.