Friday, November 13, 2015

Sweating Sickness: In a Nutshell


Rating: 4 Stars


Direct and straight to the point, just like I like 'em. I am so confused by those who have rated this book lower based on the fact that they feel it is short, or more like a thesis; I mean, it is part of a series call 'In a Nutshell', so I am unsure what others were expecting.

There are no superfluous details here. It is exactly what the title implies. A mysterious illness impacted England intermittently primarily throughout over half the reign of the Tudor dynasty and we still don't really know anything about it, other than the fact that it often struck a very specific group - wealthy English males, 30-40. Though they were not the only ones to catch the Sweat, they were the largest group represented among the dead. Additionally, by and large even those foreign to England who caught the illness seemed to recover at great rate - something England's citizens could not do.

I found the theories that Ridgway explores quite interesting, particularly the one that compares the death rate of those with Anglo-Saxon ancestry vs. those with Celtic ancestry. 

Ridgway also discusses the variety of ways that people attempted to treat the sweating sickness or keep it away altogether. It was quite interesting to read specifically about Henry VIII's herbs/medicines. The author used numerous contemporary sources, which I found most valuable. It never ceases to amaze me how far medicine has come and I am time and again thankful to have been born in the 20th century.

This is a very quick read, took me maybe half an hour. Highly recommended for a quick look at a most mysterious time in England's history.

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