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By Greg Hollingshead

Conspiracies and paranoia sweep throughout England within the aftermath of the French Revolution, touchdown tea dealer James Tilly Matthews in Bethlem sanatorium, a infamous, crumbling domestic for the insane. even supposing delusional, Matthews additionally seems to be incarcerated for unspecified political purposes, a pawn in a merciless online game of ambition and tool.

Extraordinarily evocative of time and position, Bedlam sweeps the reader right into a international teetering among darkness and lightweight, love and hate. Intellectually bold and profoundly relocating, this is often one other masterwork from a Governor General's Award– profitable writer.

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The Board's disciples were unwilling to explore the possible validity of any alternative explanations of disease; Florence Nightingale rejected the germ hypothesis because, by undermining the miasma theory, it questioned the policy of the Board: 'The germ hypothesis', she contended, 'is directly at variance in its results with ascertained sanitary experience, and to adopt it as a basis oflegislation is, in strict logic, to declare that the Public Health Act, the Local Government Act, and all other Local Acts for improving the public health, have been founded on error' (Remarks by Miss Nightingale, in Infection, 2nd edn, p.

63). According to S. E. Finer, Chadwick's biographer, the Board of Health's tenacious adherence to the miasma theory, coupled with its ignorance of microbiology, led on occasion to an increase in disease. For example, in 1848, when cholera threatened to reappear in London, the Board directed the flushing of London's sewers into the Thames (which at that time supplied most of the city's drinking-water), in order to weaken the miasma generated from the sewage. Finer explains, Chadwick publicly defended this disastrous choice: the total surface and refuse cleansing would only pollute the Thames to the population of 1 in 5,000 and this was better than keeping it in the sewers where it would give off 'pestilential' exhalations ....

Dr Perry argued that, 'Respecting the immediate cause of any epidemic disease with which a community may be visited, very little satisfactory information has hitherto been obtained; so that to give a definite answer in our present state of knowledge is beyond our power' (p. 5). And, although Southwood Smith noted how 'Vast and immeasurable ... the difference appears to be between the contagionists and the anticontagionists' (Treatise on Fever, 1830, p. 364; emphasis added), there was not always a clear demarcation between theories of contagion and theories of miasma.

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