As Dr. Copeman, a leading British authority on rheumatic diseases, points out in his preface, "the absence of a current historical survey of the gout and its near relations, rheumatism and arthritis, seems curious, and the present volume is an attempt to fill this hiatus." The 117-page discussion of gout more than merely fills a hiatus: it comprises a highly interesting and consistently entertaining account of the disease. The book discusses such diverse matters as the social implications of the notion that gout is a disease of self-indulgence and the attempts of the Abbess Hildegard of Bigen to set herself up as a medieval Food and Drug Administration and to ban the use of colchicum as "a deadly poison" despite its demonstrable beneficial effects.
Since the symptoms of gout are striking and even dramatic, clinical discussions of the past were likely to be vivid. Copeman's small book does not indicate