It is generally assumed that tropical medicine only emerged as a medical specialism in the late nineteenth century under the aegis of men like Patrick Manson and Ronald Ross. However, recent research (much of it brought together for the first time in this volume) shows that a distinctive medicine of 'warm climates' came into existence much earlier in areas like the West-Indies, Indonesia and India. Europeans' health needs were one imperative, but this was more than just the medicine of Europe shipped overseas. Contact with non-Western medical ideas and practices was also a stimulus, as was Europe's encounter with unfamiliar environments and peoples.
These essays provide valuable insights into the early history of tropical medicine and from the standpoint of several European powers. They examine the kinds of medicine practised, the responses to local diseases and environments and diseases, the nature of the medical constituencies that developed, and the relationship between the old medicine of 'warm climates' and the emerging tropical medicine of the late nineteenth century. The volume as a whole expands the parameters for the discussion of the evolution of Western medicine and opens up new perspectives on European science and society overseas.