Reviews Book

Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 13 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1173
  1. Gavin Yamey (
  1. BMJ

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    Deborah Hayden

    Basic Books, £20.99, pp 379

    ISBN 0465028810

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    At the end of the 19th century the syphilis expert Alfred Fournier estimated that 15% of the population of Paris was infected with syphilis. There was probably a similar prevalence in big cities across Europe and the United States. And yet, as Deborah Hayden notes in her introduction to Pox, there are almost no memoirs or biographies by or about people who had syphilis during this era. Syphilis, she writes, “was life's dark secret.”

    Pox is Hayden's ambitious attempt to shine some light on this darkness. She …

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