‘Medicine’, begins Bad Pharma, ‘is broken.’ It’s a false and pompous opening. Medicine has never been better. Less than a century ago, we doctors were as we always had been: trusted by our patients, trusted by ourselves and entirely untrustworthy. Up until close to the Second World War, medical care did more harm than good – most therapies and treatments were frauds and poisons. In the third decade of the 20th century it was still considered good practice to use leeches for pneumonia, or to take people who were frail and drug them into a deeply harmful blend of vomiting, sweating and diarrhoea. We thought that it was helpful. It wasn’t.
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'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.
'We have all twenty-nine of her Barsetshire novels, and whenever a certain longing reaches critical mass we read all twenty-nine again, straight through.'
Patricia T O'Conner on her love for Angela Thirkell. (£)