Dipankar Gupta
Portuguese Pioneers in India: Spotlight on Medicine by P.D. Gaitonde Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1984, 188 pp., 150
March-April 1984, volume 8, No 5

The title of the book, its pre¬face, and its foreword (written by Professor V. Ramalingaswami), hold out a promise that is un¬fortunately not fulfilled in the text: At a charitable estimate, there are no more than thirty pages in this book which are concerned with what is supposed to be the primary focus of the work. It is true that the early chapters which deal with the voyages under¬taken by intrepid warrior-adventurers on behalf of the king of Portugal, and with Portuguese society in the fifteenth and sixteenth centu¬ries are of interest, but they are unlikely to satisfy a specia¬list on these affairs. Nor do the chapters on medicine in renaissance Europe and on Ayurvedic and Unani medicine tell us anything new that is not already offered in the tradi¬tional textbooks on the history of medicine. Chapters 1 to 8, in this sense, are quite futile. These chapters are also pre¬sented as discrete units, and there is no central argument, or group of inter-connected arguments, to weave them together.

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