100 books like Doctoring Freedom

By Gretchen Long,

Here are 100 books that Doctoring Freedom fans have personally recommended if you like Doctoring Freedom. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Province of Affliction: Illness and the Making of Early New England

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

While hundreds of books have been written on early New England, Ben Mutschler deftly paints a portrait of life in New England “with sickness at its center.” He thoroughly integrates family struggles over illness and the demands placed on local governments into the story of the social and political development of this region that has long valued public health even as it has also endured tragic circumstances.

By Ben Mutschler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Province of Affliction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we balance individual and collective responsibility for illness? This question, which continues to resonate today, was especially pressing in colonial America, where episodic bouts of sickness were pervasive, chronic ails common, and epidemics all too familiar.

In The Province of Affliction, Ben Mutschler explores the surprising roles that illness played in shaping the foundations of New England society and government from the late seventeenth century through the early nineteenth century. Considered healthier than residents in many other regions of early America, and yet still riddled with disease, New Englanders grappled steadily with what could be expected of the…


Book cover of The Contagious City: The Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

Simon Finger’s book, The Contagious City, is a wonderful, concise introduction to the politics of public health in early America. By focusing on Philadelphia, a city literally designed by William Penn to be healthier than European cities, Finger shows how a distinctly American view of public health developed even after that original plan failed to achieve its desired results. Finger describes the growth of the medical community in Philadelphia, its trials during the Revolution, and its failures during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic.

By Simon Finger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Contagious City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the time William Penn was planning the colony that would come to be called Pennsylvania, with Philadelphia at its heart, Europeans on both sides of the ocean had long experience with the hazards of city life, disease the most terrifying among them. Drawing from those experiences, colonists hoped to create new urban forms that combined the commercial advantages of a seaport with the health benefits of the country. The Contagious City details how early Americans struggled to preserve their collective health against both the strange new perils of the colonial environment and the familiar dangers of the traditional city,…


Book cover of Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Necropolis describes how the yellow fever shaped New Orleans society in the 1800s.

While the fever was killing tens of thousands of people for almost two centuries from the founding of the city in 1718 until the last yellow fever epidemic in 1905, giving its victims horrible deaths in which they cried blood and vomited tar-like bile in the process, the disease helped preserve the city’s Creole culture by killing off a large proportion of immigrants to the city who were more susceptible than native-born New Orleans.

Before reading this book, I had no idea that being “acclimated” to yellow fever by surviving a case of this horrible disease was what made white transplants into bonafide citizens of the city. 

By Kathryn Olivarius,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Necropolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Disease is thought to be a great leveler of humanity, but in antebellum New Orleans acquiring immunity from the scourge of yellow fever magnified the brutal inequities of slave-powered capitalism.

Antebellum New Orleans sat at the heart of America's slave and cotton kingdoms. It was also where yellow fever epidemics killed as many as 150,000 people during the nineteenth century. With little understanding of mosquito-borne viruses-and meager public health infrastructure-a person's only protection against the scourge was to "get acclimated" by surviving the disease. About half of those who contracted yellow fever died.

Repeated epidemics bolstered New Orleans's strict racial…


Book cover of The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849 and 1866

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

Charles E. Rosenberg published his book, The Cholera Years, in 1962, and it has remained the classic book on the history of medicine in the 19th century United States. Rosenberg has had a singular impact on the field and has written on many public health topics, but his first book remains my favorite. Cleverly integrating the histories of social change, religion, and the contentious politics of New York City into a richly detailed chronicle of three separate epidemics of cholera, Rosenberg provides a gripping account of how Americans’ responses to public health crises have changed over time.

By Charles E. Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cholera Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cholera was the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century, as the plague had been for the fourteenth. Its defeat was a reflection not only of progress in medical knowledge but of enduring changes in American social thought. Rosenberg has focused his study on New York City, the most highly developed center of this new society. Carefully documented, full of descriptive detail, yet written with an urgent sense of the drama of the epidemic years, this narrative is as absorbing for general audiences as it is for the medical historian. In a new Afterword, Rosenberg discusses changes in historical method…


Book cover of Working Cures: Healing, Health, and Power on Southern Slave Plantations

Janet Farrell Brodie Author Of Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America

From my list on American women’s lives in the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved these five books for many years. I used them often in college history classes and students always loved them, too. We learn much about women’s lives and hearts (and, of course, about men’s) from each book. They bring into vivid detail women’s hard work---domestic labor and paid work---but the books also vividly illuminate the joys, pleasures, and griefs in women’s lives--sickness and healing, children, sexuality, love, and loss. We see deeply into the lives of slaves, into the lives of the working poor, as well as of the middling classes during decades of enormous change. These books cover true events and real people, based on letters and diaries and traceable events.

Janet's book list on American women’s lives in the American Revolution

Janet Farrell Brodie Why did Janet love this book?

Slaves brought deep knowledge of healing cures and medicines from Africa and that knowledge remained and circulated, helping “to heal the body and preserve the soul” as they endured slavery. Slaves held a “relational view” of sickness and health, focusing on the broader slave community and its health rather than the wellness or illness of the individual. This book in no way romanticizes slave healing as aiding an idealized communal harmony. Fett never lets us forget that slaves always faced conflict and struggle, especially since slaveholders intervened constantly in matters of health. Here, though, we gain a deep and powerful—and painful—understanding of certain kinds of relations on plantations, particularly male and female slaves’ work of curing and healing, and the uses of “conjuring,” “working roots,” divination, and “the clandestine practices of antebellum hoodoo.” Interpreting medical beliefs and practices, Fett illuminates broader social struggles over power.

By Sharla M. Fett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Working Cures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Exploring the charged topic of black health under slavery, Sharla Fett reveals how herbalism, conjuring, midwifery, and other African American healing practices became arts of resistance in the antebellum South. Fett shows how enslaved men and women drew on African and Caribbean precedents to develop a view of health and healing that was distinctly at odds with slaveholders' property concerns. While white slaveowners narrowly defined slave health in terms of ""soundness"" for labor, slaves embraced a relational view of health that was intimately tied to religion and community. African American healing practices thus not only restored the body but also…


Book cover of Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction

John C. Rodrigue Author Of Freedom's Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley

From my list on emancipation during the U.S. Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian who has always been fascinated by the problem of slavery in American history. Although a “Yankee” by birth and upbringing, I have also always been drawn to the history of the American South—probably because it runs so counter to the dominant narrative of U.S. history. My childhood interest in history—especially in wars, and the Civil War in particular—was transformed in college into a serious engagement with the causes and consequences of the Civil War. I pursued this interest in undertaking graduate study, and I have devoted my entire scholarly career to the examination of slavery and emancipation—and their consequences for today.

John's book list on emancipation during the U.S. Civil War

John C. Rodrigue Why did John love this book?

Jim Downs offers an essential corrective to the view of emancipation as a kind of liberal or progressive “triumphalist narrative.” Downs approaches the illness and death that the freed people suffered during and after the Civil War as a major public health crisis. He does not question the historical necessity or the morality of emancipation, but he shows that the disruptions and chaos that attended emancipation—often exacerbated by federal policy—also resulted in immeasurable human suffering and countless deaths. Historians have long recognized that emancipation was a messy affair. But what I find especially compelling is that Downs raises the question of whether the hardship caused by federal emancipation policy was intrinsic to that policy (however unintentional) or incidental—what we might call today “collateral damage.”

By Jim Downs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sick from Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bondspeople who fled from slavery during and after the Civil War did not expect that their flight toward freedom would lead to sickness, disease, suffering, and death. But the war produced the largest biological crisis of the nineteenth century, and as historian Jim Downs reveals in this groundbreaking volume, it had deadly consequences for hundreds of thousands of freed people.
In Sick from Freedom, Downs recovers the untold story of one of the bitterest ironies in American history-that the emancipation of the slaves, seen as one of the great turning points in U.S. history, had devastating consequences for innumerable freedpeople.…


Book cover of Sometimes Brilliant: The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History

Parvati Markus Author Of Love Everyone: The Transcendent Wisdom of Neem Karoli Baba Told Through the Stories of the Westerners Whose Lives He Transformed

From my list on by Westerners on Eastern mysticism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've devoured books ever since learning to read. Now I am an author and a professional substantive book editor, particularly for spiritual memoirs. I am indeed fortunate to be able to combine my love of books with my love of the mystic realms, spiritual transformation, and beloved gurus. The first book I ever helped to edit was the first part ("Journey") of Be Here Now. Then I lived in India for a year, spending much of it with Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass's (and my) guru, absorbing his unconditional love. That state of real love, and the pathway leading to it, are the focus of the books I have recommended.

Parvati's book list on by Westerners on Eastern mysticism

Parvati Markus Why did Parvati love this book?

Dr. Larry, as he is known to our Neem Karoli Baba satsang (the community of seekers), has written a tour de force memoir of his extraordinary adventures, starting as a young hippie doctor in Detroit and moving on to cofounding one of the first digital social networks (The WELL), cofounding the Seva Foundation (restoring sight to millions of blind people), and being a key player in eradicating smallpox.

He is chair of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and the epidemiologist California Governor Newsom called upon to set up COVID protocols for the entertainment industry. To me, the deepest value of Sometimes Brilliant is the way it illustrates how science and service to humanity combine with spiritual awareness and love—the perfect mix of karma yoga and bhakti (service and devotion).

By Larry Brilliant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sometimes Brilliant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a powerful mystic steps on the hand of a radical young hippie doctor from Detroit, it changes lives and the world. Sometimes Brilliant chronicles the adventures of a philosopher, seeker, unconventional doctor, groundbreaking tech innovator, and key player in the eradication of one of the worst pandemics in human history. His story-about what happens when love, compassion, and determination meet the right circumstances to effect positive change-is the kind that keeps hope and the sense of possibility alive.

After sitting at the feet of Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Michigan in 1963, Larry Brilliant was swept…


Book cover of How to Raise an Intuitive Eater: Raising the Next Generation with Food and Body Confidence

Charlotte Markey Author Of Adultish: The Body Image Book for Life

From my list on raising body positive kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Rutgers professor of psychology and a body image scientist. Growing up, I was a dancer and learned to be dissatisfied with my body at a young age. These concerns inhabited so much mental space during my adolescence that I ultimately began to study these issues in college as a way to better understand myself and others who had similar experiences. I’ve been doing research on body image and eating behaviors for over 25 years now and write books about these topics to help other kids and adults who may be struggling with these issues. Can you imagine what we could accomplish if we all felt comfortable in our own skin?

Charlotte's book list on raising body positive kids

Charlotte Markey Why did Charlotte love this book?

One of the things that I love about Sumner and Amee’s book is their strong social justice mindset. They’re thinking about how to parent kids who are satisfied with their bodies and have a healthy relationship with food, but they also keep the broader context in mind with everything they write.

Our culture has many disordered aspects when it comes to how we talk about bodies, health, and wellness. I was extra pleased that this book doesn’t make you feel like a failure as a parent (as so many parenting books seem to).

They have a lot of compassion for parents and appreciate that feeding kids is hard and what most adults have been taught is wrong (but it’s not their fault!)

By Sumner Brooks, Amee Severson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Raise an Intuitive Eater as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the wisdom of Intuitive Eating, a manifesto for parents to help them reject diet culture and raise the next generation to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

Kids are born intuitive eaters. Well-meaning parents, influenced by the diet culture that surrounds us all, are often concerned about how to best feed their children. Nearly everyone is talking about what to do about the childhood obesity epidemic. Meanwhile, every proposed solution for how to feed kids to promote health and prevent weight-related health concerns don’t mention the importance of one thing: a healthy relationship with food. The…


Book cover of The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity

Cheryl Erwin Author Of Positive Discipline for Preschoolers: For Their Early Years -- Raising Children Who Are Responsible, Respectful, and Resourceful

From my list on trauma in early childhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent most of my professional career as a therapist and educator, working with children who have experienced trauma and parents who want to do a better job. Trauma affects every aspect of human development and relationships. With support and understanding, trauma and its impacts need not be permanent: change and healing are always possible. The sooner the process begins, the better. The first five years of a child’s life are so important, and most parents are both overwhelmed by a glut of information and missing out on the most important parts of parenting. My hope is to make this information available to everyone who might benefit from it.

Cheryl's book list on trauma in early childhood

Cheryl Erwin Why did Cheryl love this book?

Dr. Harris is a world-changer. In her pediatric practice in an at-risk neighborhood in San Francisco, she saw young patients suffering challenges and illnesses that did not appear to be linked to any physical condition. She dug deeper, and discovered Adverse Childhood Experiences and the deep impact they can have on young lives. It is now her mission to educate doctors, who have not typically been trained in trauma or social and emotional challenges. Her book (and her TEDtalk on the same topic) is fascinating, exacting, and hopeful. Nadine Burke-Harris is now the first-ever Surgeon General of the State of California, and continues to educate parents and professionals about trauma and healing.

By Nadine Burke-Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Deepest Well as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An extraordinary, eye-opening book.”—People
 
2018 National Health Information Awards, Silver Award
 
“A rousing wake-up call . . . this highly engaging, provocative book prove[s] beyond a reasonable doubt that millions of lives depend on us finally coming to terms with the long-term consequences of childhood adversity and toxic stress.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
 
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris was already known as a crusading physician delivering targeted care to vulnerable children. But it was Diego—a boy who had stopped growing after a sexual assault—who galvanized her journey to uncover the connections between toxic stress and lifelong illnesses.
            The…


Book cover of Raising Body Positive Teens: A Parent's Guide to Diet-Free Living, Exercise, and Body Image

Charlotte Markey Author Of Adultish: The Body Image Book for Life

From my list on raising body positive kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Rutgers professor of psychology and a body image scientist. Growing up, I was a dancer and learned to be dissatisfied with my body at a young age. These concerns inhabited so much mental space during my adolescence that I ultimately began to study these issues in college as a way to better understand myself and others who had similar experiences. I’ve been doing research on body image and eating behaviors for over 25 years now and write books about these topics to help other kids and adults who may be struggling with these issues. Can you imagine what we could accomplish if we all felt comfortable in our own skin?

Charlotte's book list on raising body positive kids

Charlotte Markey Why did Charlotte love this book?

I love that this book is written by a psychologist, registered dietitian, and physician. This combination of expertise provides the basis for a well-researched and multifaceted approach for any adult interested in helping kids develop positive body images.

I especially appreciate that this book takes a strong anti-diet stance while offering strategies for families to develop a peaceful relationship with food.  

By Signe Darpinian, Wendy Sterling, Shelley Aggarwal

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raising Body Positive Teens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a world fraught with diet-culture and weight stigma, many parents worry about their child's relationship with their body and food. This down-to-earth guide is an invaluable resource allowing parents to take proactive actions in promoting a friendship with food, and preventative actions to minimize the risk factors for the development of eating disorders, particularly when early signs of disordered eating, excessive exercise, or body dissatisfaction have been noticed. It provides clear strategies and tools with a practical focus to gently encourage parents and teens to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise by centralizing joy and health. Coming…


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