Mankind's battle to stay alive is the greatest of all subjects. This brief, witty and unusual book by Britain's greatest medical historian compresses into a tiny span a lifetime spent thinking about millennia of human ingenuity in the quest to cheat death. Each chapter sums up one of these battlefields (surgery, doctors, disease, hospitals, laboratories and the human body) in a way that is both frightening and elating. Startlingly illustrated, "A Short History of Medicine" is the ideal present for anyone who is keenly aware of their own mortality and wants to do something about it. It is also a wonderful memorial to one of Penguin's greatest historians.