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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Historical
  • Language:English
  • Pages:348
  • Format:Paperback
  • eBook ISBN:9781098315399
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098315382

Bloodletting and Germs

A Doctor in Nineteenth Century Rural New York

by Thomas Rosenthal View author's profile page

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Bloodletting and Germs is a historical novel set at the dawn of modern medicine. Stories from the personal and professional life of a country doctor put humanity’s face on a period of profound scientific and social transformation. 


A village doctor meets medicine’s enlightenment.

Married to Millicent, an abolitionist and known participant in the Underground Railroad, Dr. Jabez Allen became an avid supporter of the civil rights movement.

One runaway slave, Civia, became indispensable to Dr. Allen’s medical practice, and the association forced Dr. Allen to reject the nineteenth century theories that had demeaned Negros as physiologically inferior.

But the anti-slavery passions that joined Millicent and Civia in abolitionist occupations could not prevent the arrest of Civia and her family under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. 

Issues of culture and civilization continue as Dr. Allen confronts the contagions of his day, including the cholera that drained life from his patient Abbie, the daughter of President Millard Fillmore, the man who signed the Fugitive Slave Act into law.

Dr. Allen joins with Dr. Austin Flint to investigate a localized typhoid pandemic, producing a model of epidemiology that captured the attention Dr. John Snow and his study of the London well. 

Bloodletting and Germs is a historical novel written as Dr. Allen’s memoir.

Citing over 400 sources, it is true to the events of Dr. Allen’s life and to the forces changing medical care in the nineteenth century.

Dr. Allen’s story teaches us about managing the unknown and becoming a small-town hero. His doctoring, and his life, put humanity’s face on a period of profound scientific and social transformation.

About the author

Thomas C. Rosenthal M.D. practiced family medicine and geriatrics in both rural and urban Western New York for 40 years. He chaired the Department of Family Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science, University at Buffalo, edited the Journal of Rural Health and FP Audio, authored numerous peer reviewed scientific papers, edited a textbook of geriatric medicine and received teaching awards from the National Rural Health Association and the New York State Academy of Family Medicine. Bloodletting and Germs reflects Rosenthal's lifelong interest in how advances in medical science impact primary medical care at the community level. 

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