From the list on discovering the circulation of the blood.
Who am I?
I’ve been fascinated by history since I was a fairly sickly child, which means I was gradually drawn towards the history of medicine. Add to that having a hereditary blood clotting condition and you can see why this topic appeals to me! I have a BA and a PhD in History from University College London and have held posts in the universities of Cambridge, Newcastle, Reading, and then at The Open University. I’ve also held visiting professorships in Vienna, Texas, and Minnesota and have published six books as well as editing others. I’m sort of retired but still writing and lecturing.
Helen's book list on discovering the circulation of the blood
Discover why each book is one of Helen's favorite books on discovering the circulation of the blood .
Why this book?
Harvey’s Heart is a tiny book but it packs in a lot, including plenty of illustrations. I used to teach the history of medicine and I found blood circulation a difficult topic – I’m squeamish myself, and faint at blood tests, which doesn’t help! But this book makes Harvey’s ideas very clear, not least how something we now take for granted wasn’t obvious at all until the 17th century.
His breakthrough was a weird mix of building on discoveries by others – such as knowing that valves stop the blood moving backwards – while observing, experimenting, and speculating for himself. Although he published his theory in 1628, he seems to have worked it out maybe ten years earlier. The conventions of science in his day meant he had to offer it to the world rather cautiously, because saying that the ancients had got it wrong was a dangerous claim…
Why should I read it?
1 author picked Harvey's Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.
What is this book about?
The tale of William Harvey's momentous discovery - that the blood vessels form a closed system, carrying blood pumped rapidly around the body by the heart - is one of ingenuity, imagination and perseverence, and remarkable use of experiment, observation and skill.
- Coming soon!