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Scurvy: The Disease of Discovery

2.93  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  10 reviews
An intellectual history of scurvy in the eighteenth century

Scurvy, a disease often associated with long stretches of maritime travel, generated sensations exceeding the standard of what was normal. Eyes dazzled, skin was morbidly sensitive, emotions veered between disgust and delight. In this book, Jonathan Lamb presents an intellectual history of scurvy unlike any other,
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Hardcover, 328 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Princeton University Press (first published November 21st 2016)
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Diana
Book received from NetGalley.

I enjoyed this book, though I did have a few issues with it. Parts of it seemed to switch gears from the main point of the book which is scurvy, how doctors figured out what caused it, and how it was prevented without refrigeration and other modern preservation methods. The other was the use of quite a bit of medical jargon that I had to look up. I believe that this book is supposed to be for the general public, but that didn't always seem to be the case. All that be
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Eric
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I'll be honest here: I got through the first chapter, then started skipping around looking for points of interest, and that was pretty much that. This isn't a bad book, or it shouldn't have to be. It's a book that I read a deceptive review of—one that made it sound like a book not written by a humanities professor for other humanities professors, which is what we have here. Lamb is a witty, perceptive writer, and he's discussing an almost-forgotten but fascinating and dread disease within the co ...more
Michal Paszkiewicz
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
In the past week I have learned more about scurvy than I ever needed to know. I feel this book could have been marginally better if it didn't have such an incredible wealth of literature reviews that I just couldn't take in at the rate presented in the book. ...more
Allegra Rosenberg
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
wildly in-depth, complex, inventive look at scurvy thru the lens of history, poetry, psychology, romance, etc. especially obsessed with the chapter on the disease’s effects on the culture of early australian penal society
Kyle Wilson
I now know more than I ever needed to know about vitamin C deficiency. Interesting book.
Mary
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book details how scurvy was recorded in written literature across history. I was disappointed as I was expecting more of a "guns, germs, and steel" type of book, which detailed the impact of diseases on various civilizations (guess I didn't read the book jacket too carefully). While well-researched and written, I didn't enjoy all the flowery text. ...more
Christian
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
A book that could be split into two, depending on taste:

The parts that most closely related to the history of scurvy, its effects and consequences on history, were highly interesting and from which I have learnt a lot. For these parts I'd give it 5 stars.

The other parts that are quite philosophical, looking at how scurvy influenced fiction, or the author's philosophical opinions of how scurvy paralleled other struggles and stories, were a bit too heavy for me.
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Kristine
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Scurvy: The Disease of Discovery by Jonathan Lamb is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November.

Works of genius have their drawbacks: while seeming utterly brilliant on the surface and jaw-droppingly astounding to behold, sitting down and really experiencing something (like reading this book) can lead you to realize that it's an artful mess. Don't get me wrong, it's a terrific book and a condensed tome of a specific, previously mysterious subject, but Lamb easily gets lost in his own pr
...more
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Vanewimsey
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I gave up before I got to page 100, because it's so badly written and so repetitive. The first time I read that Captain Cook mistakenly believed that malt wort would prevent scurvy, I was mildly interested. After multiple times -- and remember, that's just before page 100 -- not so much.

There are many interesting facts, but they're randomly arranged; they're never mustered to make a point. And they're interspersed with meaningless academic vaporings. E.g., "So I agree with Kevis Goodman, who has
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