Tropical Diseases

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 01 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:263
  1. W F Bynum, professor emeritus, University College London (

    “Textbook knowledge” has a bad ring these days. Knowledge grows so quickly that textbooks are assumed to be purveyors of yesterday's news. A century ago, medicine was also changing rapidly, and yet two textbooks, each published in 1898, transformed the medical landscape. William Osler's Principles and Practice of Medicine elegantly brought the glad tidings of the new scientific medicine to students of medicine throughout the world. Patrick Manson's Tropical Diseases spearheaded a new medical specialty, at a time of global imperialism.

    Manson, a genial Scot with practical experience in China, Formosa, and Hong Kong, was then a tropical …

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