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Book review: The Art of Medicine in Early China, by Miranda Brown

The title of this book is perhaps slightly misleading. Brown explicitly tells us that, unlike many previous authors, she has not written a study of how medicine was practised in ancient China or of the medical theories that existed then. Such matters are touched on only peripherally. What she writes about is how representations (her emphasis) of ancient healers have been reinterpreted in both Europe and China. In other words, she focuses on how previous writers have shaped our view of ancient Chinese medicine rather than on ancient Chinese medicine itself. This is a book about Chinese medical historiography.

I have to say that when I first read this I thought that the book would be of interest only to a scholarly audience and not to someone like me who mainly wants to try to understand how modern Western acupuncture relates to ancient Chinese ideas. But as I read more of the book I realised that it does shed light on this question, even if indirectly. [More]


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