This book review is reprinted from The Homoeopath with permission from Francis Treuherz of The Society of Homoeopaths
The Faces of Homoeopathy:
An Illustrated History of the
First 200 Years
by Julian Winston
1999, hardback, 634pp, ISBN 0-473-05607-0
Reviewed by Francis Trueuherz
[Read an Interview of Francis Treuherz]
Julian Winston has a hobby which is playing the pedal steel guitar and he used to attend the music festivals and meet other guitarists and singers. We can only imagine the scene from the Hollywood images. He got talking with a young English musician called Hank Wangford (if you recall the music this will give away your real age). Well, Hank revealed over a drink or two that his day job was medical. And after another drink or two he revealed that Hank was his pseudonym and the real Dr Sam Hutt's special interest was homeopathy. Can you imagine that? Hank Wangford was taught by Dr Blackie and had to hide under the stairs when a Royal patient was attending! And it was Julian who knew all about it.
Julian has a knack of being in the right place at the right time. He was a successful patient of a Dr Ray Seidel at a time when some historians (like Martin Kaufman, author of The Rise and Fall of a Medical Heresy, 1971) thought that homoeopathy was in terminal decline. He then met all the important homoeopaths of the last few decades, and he heard all about the homoeopaths who taught them and the ones who in turn taught them, which took him back to the founders. Julian had the knack of drawing out their anecdotes, and has written them down and remembered them. He also became a lay leader in the National Center for Homoeopathy, Dean of its annual summer school, and editor of a lively monthly from Washington, Homoeopathy Today. This is the modern troubadour's version of the history of homoeopathy: aural, oral and yet recorded for posterity.
Julian is a professional design educator (his real day job), and so this book is also an aesthetic experience. Into 656 pages he manages to cram 365 illustrations, 137 biographies, a brief history of homoeopathy in each state of America and 69 other countries. The section on the history of pharmacy and potentisers is fascinating and his original drawings of the machinery are exquisite. The printed volume began life as a slide show, an illustrated lecture which became a video, and then a book. Withdrawal from the growing North American homoeopathic world to New Zealand has given Julian the distance and quiet needed to write down his stories. He concentrates on the USA but there is much about Britain also.
This is not only modern or recent history from the 19th century, it takes us right up to the 1990s. The book is just so rich that I am stuck for words, and cannot decide what made me laugh or cry most. But certainly I must warn you that you will want to stay up all night to finish it, and have someone with you to share it with. I mean just take a magnifying glass to see the happy faces in the crowd on the lawn of the White House in 1922 at a garden party of the American Institute of Homoeopathy with President Warren G. Harding, whose father was a homoeopath. Even the President's personal physician was there. Or read the facts about the myth of the decline of homoeopathy and the controversy over high and low potency prescribing early in the 20th century. Do you know how to fold papers to make a powder? Julian has the diagram. Marvel at the sheet music of the American Institute Two- Step from the 1901 annual meetings. Take a peek inside the pharmacy of the Middletown State homoeopathic mental hospital in 1904. There is an interesting and affirmatively correct section on the role of women homoeopaths.
I must tell you another short tale: Julian lived in Philadelphia. This city had been in the centre of the North American growth area of homoeopathy, and especially so as the seat of the important pharmacy and publisher, Boericke & Tafel. When they closed their Philadelphia depot and moved to California, it was Julian who was there to rescue the old bottles, books and ephemera from the skips and dumpsters, just as he has rescued the stories. I have an idea which has arisen in my mind from seeing all the pictures of homoeopaths Julian has gathered of colleagues at different times at the Hahnemann monument in Washington DC. 2005 will be the 250th anniversary of Hahnemann's birth. Let us commission a statue as a memorial to Hahnemann in a Royal Park here in Britain, and let us invite Julian Winston over to inaugurate it with the living rap version of his faces and stories. I am particularly moved that Julian has secured an introduction by Dr Harris Coulter, probably the last essay Harris wrote before his recent illness. Harris wrote a scholarly history of homoeopathy, and its relation to allopathy in three volumes: Divided Legacy, The History of Schism in Medical Thought. I would say that Julian has written the story of homoeopathy and its relations to homoeopaths from the inside.
Winter 2000, Number 76