Indexes Overlap and Illustrative Materials

By means of two detailed indexes we have attempted to make the information in this work as useful, and accessible, as possible. The larger, general index provides many cross-references and historical synonyms for diseases. The second index lists proper names and supplies the dates and a brief biographical sketch of all historical figures in medicine mentioned by more than one author. Thus, it is possible to consult an entry on, say, the perception of disease in Asia during the eighth century (Parts I and II); to turn to another entry on the impact of smallpox and other epidemic diseases in eighth-century Japan (Part VI); to read another entry that discusses smallpox as a disease entity and provides its history; to discover something about Edward Jenner in the index of names; and then, using the general index, to trace the course of smallpox over time and around the globe.

The fact that this is possible means that there is some overlap. Yet from the outset it was decided that each essay should stand on its own. Thus, some repetition was not only inevitable but even desirable. Indeed, given the variety of methods and approaches employed by the contributors, what might be thought to be duplication is often scrutiny of a question with different lenses. Still, much overlap has been avoided because of the different approaches. Medical scientists tend to emphasize subjects that social scientists do not, and among the latter, anthropologists, demographers, economists, geographers, and historians all manage to disagree (not always cheerfully) about what is important. The various disciplines have also dictated an uneven deployment of illustrative materials. Geographers use maps; demographers, charts and graphs; anthropologists, diagrams; whereas historians all too often believe that their words are descriptive enough.

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