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The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The rise of a sovereign profession and the making of a vast industry [Paperback]

Paul Starr
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 5, 1984 0465079350 978-0465079353 Reprint
Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in American History, this is a landmark history of how the entire American health care system of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs has evolved over the last two centuries.

"The definitive social history of the medical profession in America....A monumental achievement."—H. Jack Geiger, M.D., New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Starr is Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and its Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Social Transformation of American Medicine and The Creation of the Media. Starr is the co-founder and editor of The American Prospect. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (June 5, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465079350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465079353
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this to understand American healthcare. October 1, 1998
By A Customer
Since this book was written in 1985, I have used it to teach medical students about the changes in American healthcare. The last chapter, "The Coming of the Corporation," forecasts what has happened in the last decade. This book is a must for all who want to understand why the changes are occurring in American healthcare
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why the US has a private health care system May 3, 2003
By Geodog
This Pulitzer Prize winning history of American Medicine does a lot to explain why the domain of public health is so small in the U.S., and why health in the U.S. is mostly a private, as opposed to public, matter. It takes some fortitude to get through, but it should be required reading for anyone who has ever wondered why, for better and for worse, the US is the only developed country that does not have social provision of medical care. Hint: It's not an accident. Recommended
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great history of American medicine January 8, 2004
For anyone interested in the healthcare as a profession or area of study, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Despite the 20 years since its publication, Paul Starr's Pulitzer prize winner is still relevant today and in retrospect his projections made of the future of healthcare in America are surpisingly prescient.
The first book describes the development of the medical profession in early America providing a fascinating look at the social evolution of American society. The second book delineates the rise of doctors, hospitals and medical schools in latter half of the 19th to the early 20th century with the rise of science and a professional authority. The third book shifts the focus from the doctors and to the industry that medicine became as well as the various attempts at healthcare reform in response to rising healthcare costs.
My only criticism is that Starr should have devoted more pages to the root causes behind the rising healthcare costs that drove the reforms of the 1960-70s described in the third book.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best analysis on american health care December 27, 2006
The evolution of American medicine is a fascinating story and it is told very well. The analysis is excellent and this really provides a great perspective about how the US got to the corporate system we are now on. I wish there would be an update that would take us from 1980-2000. The debate over how socialized medicine did not take root is very interesting and well done in the book. If you are getting started or an expert this book has something for everyone. Highly recommend for those who are trying to understand how doctors and hospitals developed in America.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must reading for students of health care April 6, 1998
By A Customer
I am on my third reading of this text and can honestly say that it stands out as being the definitive text on the history of health care delivery in this country. If you wish to understand why things are the way they are in the U.S. health care delivery system, this is where to start.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blame it on the AMA October 17, 2003
This book traces the evolution of America's disjointed healthcare system, from the horror of the early hospitals to the formation of the medical profession. It also explains how, as the early profession was fighting for the right to exist, it took virtual possession of the rest of the healthcare system. Every Democratic president since FDR has attempted some type of major healthcare reform, only to be opposed by the American Medical Association (AMA) because organized doctorhood thought it had too much to lose.
This book is an effortless read for students of sociology or those that have a great interest in the history of medicine. Published in 1983, it easily predicts some of the current problems in American healthcare, because the powerful interests that determine the delivery of healthcare are still the same. It also predicts some of the circumstances that will finally bring America around to some sort of rational, universal, healthcare coverage.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is a must read for understanding American medicine. It actually has a straightforward point of view in its focus on the autonomy and status of the medical profession and the distinguishing feature in the evolution of health care institutions. The role of the medical profession in health care is unique in our society and this books historically follows how the profession has used its position to counter capital enterprise and public programs to meet pressing social needs. He makes clear that the development of valid scientific theories and their applicating into effective treatments was critical to affirming the control of physicians. Otherwise the political disputes over licensing and accreditation could not have succeeded. Obviously the emergence of HMO's and other health insurers represent the latest source of conflict. Again this work presents the issues clearly and objectively.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is the best book on the subject. It is a friendly read and provides a great overview of the history of medicine. There are some great stories in here and it is actually fun to read. Wonderfully written and a great source of information. You have to read it to believe it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
If you are at all interested in how the practice (and administration) of American medicine has reached its present state, this book is a must-read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by homecritic
5.0 out of 5 stars informative
bought this book for a college class, but found the book to be very informative and interesting to read. item arrived in good condition and on time.
Published 2 months ago by D. Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars Super insightful
This book really creates such an interesting picture of the development of American medicine, and sheds a lot of light on today's problems.
Published 5 months ago by Jessica Principe
3.0 out of 5 stars It's just a book!
This is a book. Not much to say, except you get exactly what you pay for...words on a page. Interesting stuff!
Published 5 months ago by Boone
5.0 out of 5 stars social tranformation of american medicine
book was reiceved way before the date it said it would and had some highlighting and a few notes but other than that great buy! only 90 cents plus shipping made it less than $5!!
Published 13 months ago by Becca Birge
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul Starr's interpretation of historical development of current...
I found myself to begin to experience an understanding of facets of the medical establishment which had been previously obscure to me because of tolerance borne of familiar... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Stewart Taylor Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read
So, who decided that a middle class profession would walk on water? Of course I am referring to physicians. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Thanksohio
5.0 out of 5 stars loved this book
it is a very fascinating read. It helped me understand how our medical system came to be and the development of medicine. Its a must read I think.
Published 16 months ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good exploration
I love this book! It's very thoughtful and it's taking me forever to chew through it, but the author follows medicine in a wide-ranging, thorough way that you just won't find in... Read more
Published 18 months ago by K. M. Puhl
I had to read this for my Health Law class. It was *excellent*. Anyone interested on how we got from there to here in the medical mess that we call health insurance, it's a must... Read more
Published 19 months ago by The Steadfast Reader
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