Review by Choice Review
Public health and women's studies professor Abel (UCLA) skillfully analyzes the history of how residents of southern California dealt with the public health crisis of tuberculosis from the late 1900s to the mid-20th century. The author integrates how opinion makers and public officials coped with tuberculosis in the context of major economic changes, especially the emergence of an exclusionary society based on class and race. After initially advertising the region as a place where those with tubercular maladies could find warmth, sun, and healing, promoters soon came to fear the area's being overrun by disease carriers. The ill population taxed the medical understanding of lay people and professionals alike. Diverse groups of the ill defined as different, or "other," as Abel calls them, found themselves subject to a larger stigma. Before long, public health policy became inextricably linked to strategies for excluding undesirable elements from the mainstream population. The impact of this became clearer during the Great Depression, when racial minorities and immigrant groups became scapegoats at the same time that public services were cut. This book should receive a wide readership--those interested in California or medical history, or in immigration and ethnicity, social and health policy, and 20th-century US social history. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. C. K. Piehl Minnesota State University, Mankato
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