In a rare blend of erudition and entertainment, Roy Porter charts the revolutionary history of medicine, our most beneficial science. Throughout history medicine has advanced ever faster, and with it a capacity not just to overcome sickness, but to transform the nature of life itself. From the diseases of the hunter-gatherers to today's threat of AIDS and ebola, from the clearly defined conviction of the Hippocratic oath to the muddy ethical dilemmas of modern-day medicine, this book affords us an opportunity as never before to assess the culture and science of medicine and its costs and benefits to mankind. Porter explores medicine's evolution against the backdrop of the wider religious, scientific, philosophical, and political beliefs of the culture in which it develops, and shows how our need to understand where diseases come from and what we can do to control them has--perhaps above all else--inspired developments in medicine through the ages. Along the way the book offers up a treasure trove of historical surprises, such as an ancient Egyptian treatment for incipient baldness, a mysterious epidemic that devastated Athens and brought an end to its domination, and the role of the lemon in defeating Napoleon. This book promises to be the standard single-volume work on its subject for years to come.