The Sick Rose is a visual tour through the golden age of medical illustration. The nineteenth century experienced an explosion of epidemics such as cholera and diphtheria, driven by industrialization, urbanization and poor hygiene. In this pre-color-photography era, accurate images were relied upon to teach students and aid diagnosis. The best examples, featured here, are remarkable pieces of art that attempted to elucidate the mysteries of the body, and the successive onset of each affliction. Bizarre and captivating images, including close-up details and revealing cross-sections, make all too clear the fascinations of both doctors and artists of the time. Barnett illuminates the fears and obsessions of a society gripped by disease, yet slowly coming to understand and combat it. The age also saw the acceptance of vaccination and the germ theory, and notable diagrams that transformed public health, such as John Snow’s cholera map and Florence Nightingale’s pioneering histograms, are included and explained. Organized by disease, The Sick Rose ranges from little-known ailments now all but forgotten to the epidemics that shaped the modern age. It is a fascinating Wunderkammer of a book that will enthrall artists, students, designers, scientists and the incurably curious everywhere.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Human history as seen through medical illustration I am incredibly excited about what this book has to offer fellow readers. While it can quickly be seen simply as a finely designed coffeetable book of grotesque handmade images, the award-winning author channels his fascination of medical history to illuminate deeper questions. Since everything is connected, The Sick Rose is an awe-inspiring look at history, politics, culture, art, science, and medicine. For author Richard Barnett, his original track as a forensic pathologist revealed an ugly side of medical school, which was "taking well rounded people and squashing them so they can become something of a sort of machine." He found the opportunity to study the history of medicine a joyful switch as he realized he could maintain his diverse interests in human life. This book reckons inquiry from "how we live in our bodies" to the objective aim of science. These images were essential for teaching students and helping with diagnoses, but what I kept wondering was how the process of capturing a patient's physical suffering must have affected their mental and emotional state. As these pictures came before color photography, there were so many people involved in their production that it was impossible to preserve objectivity. I think this was an issue with black and white photography too, especially since coming across the work of Sander Gilman (see Face of Madness, Seeing the Insane, and Sexuality: An Illustrated History). Gilman is not nearly the poet that the author is, but his books are still fascinating.