Reviews

Washington Post (Book World), by Michael Dirda: "Passions and Tempers may excite passions and tempers in some of its readers, as a good work of intellectual history should. You will learn a lot from its pages. But one of its lessons most adults already know: However smart, creative or holy we may think ourselves, we are still fastened to the vexatious flesh, in all its glory and terrible fragility." (June 17th, 2007)

New York Sun (Arts section), by Eric Ormsby: "excellent... fascinating... admirable detail... wealth of intriguing detail... thoughtful"; "this persistent theory, reluctantly discarded only in modern times, has much to teach us"; "an erudite book, drawing on historical and scientific sources in several languages, but a gracefully written one." (June 20th, 2007)

New York Times (Book Review), by Sherwin B. Nuland: "To Arikha`s immense credit, she provides a thoroughly documented account of the ways in which a wrong-headed theory dominated medical thinking for more than 2,000 years"... "Arikha`s analysis of the Hippocratic history of medicine has brought her a long way, and she does a fine job of interpreting and elucidating the texts and words of earlier eras." (July 8th, 2007)

Weekly Standard (Books & Arts), by Lawrence Klepp: "Much of Arikha`s book is devoted to reassuring medieval and early modern medical nonsense: Reassuring not because we`ve so spectacularly overcome it but because the confidence with which it was offered teaches us something about surefire medical remedies and theories in general"... "a good story... that reminds us how easily knowing a little can be mistaken for knowing a lot." (July 30th, 2007)

Salon.com (Books), by Andrew O`Hehir: "often fascinating"... "Arikha is an impressive polymath"... "Passions and Tempers makes a strong case that humoral theory is more than a scholarly curiosity, and sheds startling light on our contemporary confusion about what happens in the dark, wet and messy world inside our bodies, and how that pertains to our minds, our souls and our selves." (August 8th, 2007)

Times Literary Supplement, by William T. Bynum: "Noga Arikha (...) has written a virtual history of medicine via the humours and their ramifications. Many of the big names, from Hippocrates through Vesalius and Harvey to Pasteur and beyond, are represented in Passions and Tempers" (August 17th, 2007)

Times Higher Education, by Chris McManus: "Noga Arikha`s well-written history of the humours extends from its Classical origins, its development in Byzantine and Arab thought, its Renaissance flowering through to its collapse under the cold gaze of scientific method"... "compelling" (September 21st, 2007)

New England Journal of Medicine, by Vivien Nutton: "How a theory developed in Greece during the 5th century BC came to dominate medicine in Europe and the Muslim world for more than 2000 years is a fascinating story." (November 29, 2007)

The Atlantic (Cover to Cover): "...The historian Arikha traces the humoral doctrine through the ages, exploring the intersection of folk wisdom and state-of-the-art science, and provocatively argues that the basic model continues to inform science in surprising ways. Arikha makes a compelling case that in the mind-body relationship, `the present is impregnated with our past`." (January-February 2008)

American Psychological Association (Psyccritiques), by Simon Boag: "absorbing"..."will have broad appeal"..."provides a fascinating journey through a major intellectual tradition"..."highlights both how far we have come in our understanding of our bodily existence and how little we still in fact know of ourselves." (February 20, 2008, Vol. 53)

British Journal of Psychiatry (Book reviews), by Hugh Freeman: "The story is important to psychiatrists", who "will no doubt find more interest in the later chapters, though a longer historical view seems enough to encourage medical humility: `it was not much more comfortable to fall ill [in the later 18th century] than it had been in the fifteenth`." (July 2008, Vol. 193)

Medical History (Book review), by Fay Bound Alberti: "This is an ambitious and expansive history of the humours"... "Arikha`s approach is enthusiastic, combining literary and medical texts, and she demonstrates a keen grasp of classical and early modern theories of the body and its workings." (October 2008, 52:4)

La Stampa (Tuttolibri) (for 2-page pdf click here and here), by Eugenia Tognotti: "Straordinario libro"... "Muovendosi con sicurezza tra medicina e filosofia, l`Arikha segue l`evolversi degli umori lungo i secoli"... "ricco di erudizione, eppure non intimidante, e, anzi, spigliato e appassionante, ci aiuta a capire quanto, ancora, ci resta da conoscere del nostro corpo e di noi stessi." (February 6th, 2010)

 

Advance reviews:

Kirkus Reviews: "As Arikha puts it, the humoural system reminds us that the best scientists and doctors are those who recognize how little they know; its history is "the underside of our present perplexities." (May 1st, 2007)

Publishers Weekly: "pleasing historical survey"..."usefully reminds us that our modern theories of the relationship between mind, mood and body rest on gains made by humoral analogy"... The author´s "passion, intellectual energy and empathy are laudable"..."This is a stimulating work that shows the Western mind nobly grappling with the inscrutable nature of the human body." (April 9th, 2007)

 

Advance praise:

"The brain does not hurt, as Monty Python would have it, but the body that the brain portrays does, and the humours, old and new, are to blame. To learn more about them read Noga Arikha´s delightful book."

Antonio Damasio
(author of Descartes´ Error, Looking for Spinoza, and The Feeling of What Happens)