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Heal Thyself: Nicholas Culpeper and the Seventeenth-Century Struggle to Bring Medicine to the People Hardcover – June 29, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ostensibly a biography of Culpeper, who first translated Latin medical works into English in the 17th century, this book goes well beyond the life of one individual to document the transformation of medicine during one of the most traumatic periods in English history. Culpeper is best known today for Culpeper's Complete Herbal, a comprehensive listing of English medicinal herbs along with directions on their use. Still in print after more than 350 years, the Herbal is, in Woolley's words, "one of the most popular and enduring books in publishing history, perhaps the non-religious book in English to remain longest in continuous print." Emmy-winning British journalist Woolley (The Queen's Conjurer) does a wonderful job of situating Culpeper (1616–1654) within the English civil war of the era. As he demonstrates, the politics associated with the creation of the medical profession were every bit as important as the science underlying specific treatments. Culpeper's lower-class, populist roots and sentiments are contrasted with those of William Harvey, a royalist and one of England's greatest scientists. As a member of the medical establishment, Harvey helped keep medical knowledge from the common people while Culpeper fought to do just the opposite. The book is enjoyable on many levels and in a time preoccupied with empowering patients and making information available on the Internet, this tale has particular resonance. 25 b&w illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Once upon a time, in seventeenth-century London, there were doctors, surgeons, and apothecaries. The idea was that none should encroach upon the domain of the others. To cement that understanding, the influential College of Physicians engineered laws that would protect their turf and all but spell death to anybody too poor to visit a doctor. Along came a rebellious apothecary, Nicholas Culpeper, whose philosophy differed radically from that of most of his contemporaries. Feeling that people ought to be able to brew their own herbal remedies, he wrote The English Physitian, better known as Culpeper's Complete Herbal, "whereby a man preserve his Body in Health, or cure himself, being sick, for three pence charge, with such things only as grow in England." In a broad-stroke biography that embraces an entire era, Wooley paints a colorful portrait of Culpeper, often accorded a mere footnote in the annals of mainstream medical history, and dubs him the founder of modern alternative medicine. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060090669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060090661
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,128,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elizabeth A. Machado on September 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First thing I love is how this book clearly maps out when medicine became fraternal and corporate as well as why that happened. Just blows my mind that some of those same early struggles between corporate interest and the well being of the people are still taking place today and its all because of what went down during the time that this book takes place.

The second thing is: What a beautiful display of pictures with healing properties behind each herb.. I use this book for my witchcraft practice as well as for school.. Its such a great reference because he is one of the earliest botanists and its a great book to reference for Essays because its unique and not every one uses it.
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Format: Hardcover
I do medieval re-enacting, and when I found a cheap copy of this book, I picked it up for research purposes. But, unlike a lot of non-fiction books, I ended up reading it from front to back because it's written in a narrative style that reads easily. The author goes into a lot of detail that explains the politics, people, and world at that time, so you don't just get information on medicine and Nicolas Culpepper, but an entire picture of what life was like at that moment.

I enjoyed the author's style so much that, when I happened across his book "Savage Nation" about Jamestown, I picked it up for my husband (who also has an interest in early American history). We both ended up reading it and liking it. Mr. Woolley's book on John Dee, Queen Elizabeth's astrologer is on my wish list now.
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By She-Ra on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great story that tells about Nicholas Culpeper and his struggle to say "Hey! There is another way!" He was a seventeenth- century pioneer of herbal medicine whose actions and beliefs revolutionized medicine and medical practices. Very informative and exciting! Fast paced and passionate. Very eye opening to how the seventeenth century was and how far we've come! Benjamin Woolley researched the era wonderfully and I look forward to reading other books by him!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not the best of Culpepers books.
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