Historians and doctors have much in common. Both acknowledge that the proper study of mankind is Man. Both are particularly interested in the influences which condition human existence. The object of this book is to study the area in which doctor and historian inevitably meet, that of the impact of disease upon history. In medical diagnosis, a single cause for disease will likely be found. In historical investigations, the causes are likely to be complex. Nothing could be more ridiculous than to contend that disease is always the primary cause of a great historical change; but, particularly at a time when the sociological aspects of history are being emphasized, it is worth examining those episodes in which the influence of disease may have been of real importance, especially when that importance has been neglected or misconstrued by more conventional historians.
- From Disease and History by Frederick F. Cartwright in collaboration with Michael D. Biddiss