Bedlam: London and its Mad by Catharine Arnold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: NON-FICTION – HISTORY – MEDICAL – SCIENCE – MENTAL HEALTH – HORROR
This book is well worth 5 stars. Sometimes it can be quite dry reading and of course a lot of the extracts quoted in it are centuries old with a rather more difficult take on the English language but it really is worth persevering to get a real overview of the history and to get to the best parts (in my opinion) a real sense of the people involved.
Premise: This book captures everything from barbaric treatments, human zoos, manic doctors who were worse than the insane they treated (that is when they actually did the job of treating patients, not something they always did), beautiful buildings, advances through medical history, and even some fascinating insights into the first world war.
I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:
As to those wild, wanton women drinkers, their tipple of choice, regarded as the source of all evil by many commentators, was tea. In his Observations on Maniacal Disorders (1792), William Pargeter condemned the frequent and immoderate use of tea.
I think this is possibly one of my favourite quotes for life now.
I found this book captivating and found myself regularly telling friends of its contents. I also stuck various post-it’s in it of interesting quotes (one of my favourites being about woman and tea as shown above) and of people or stories I want to follow-up and read more about.
Any Negatives: As mentioned earlier sometimes the historic language is difficult but I think once you settle into the book even that gets easier to read as you go along.
Excellently researched, a book that spans the years and gives so many different insights.
Overall View: So, a book that makes me want to read more books will always be worth 5 stars in my opinion. Great job by this author. I am intrigued to research their writing career and see if they have published any further works.
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