The author, George J. Hill, is a physician and historian. He argues that the primary goal of humans, from cave dwellers to those in the modern world, has been the search for good health and a long life. The quest for health has been to avoid illness, to treat disease and injuries, and to delay death. Humans were aware of the existence of a future, and this motivated them to search for health. They began with some qualities that were present in all animals, especially those that were enhanced in mammals. Humans found a unique advantage over all other animals when they discovered how to use fire. This enabled humans to do things that were impossible for other primates. Humans also discovered ways to make personal covering and weapons. With their use of fire, clothing, and weapons, it became possible for humans to control their environment, and to live anywhere on earth.
Health Matters takes the reader from what we all have, such as our body and mind, and the environment, to what we need — for air, sun, and sleep. Then our urges: for water, food, shelter, and social connections. Some of the unique aspects of humans, including the ability to domesticate animals. Our wants —for love and money — and the ways we look at death. Exceptions to the urges and wants include religion and irrational behavior. The history of medicine began in hunter-gatherer communities in which one person, the healer-priest, had the “gift” that was needed to provide for the group’s health. Medicine developed from this early start into two paths. One was science and technology. The other was religion. Hill then takes the reader on a trip through human history, showing how good health or bad health has influenced decisions and outcomes, in individuals and in populations.
The author received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2022 from the New Jersey Institute of Technology for the Scholar’s Edition of Health Matters. He previously won prizes for Outpatient Surgery, Edison’s Environment, and Proceed to Peshawar.
George J. Hill, M.D., D.Litt.
2023, 6x9, paper, 354 pp.