You may have noticed, by the by, that many of your Facebook friends and others on social media have in recent weeks become expert epidemiologists and virologists. If, however, you’re feeling left out, help is at hand in the form of the “witty and wise” Medicine: A Graphic History (SelfMadeHero), an Asterix-styled comic collaboration between Prof Jean-Noël Fabiani, head of cardiovascular surgery at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris and a former teacher of the history of medicine, and illustrator Philippe Bercovici. First published in France in 2018, this English translation arrives at a desperate time in the search for a vaccine, but it is nevertheless a much-needed tonic and a timely reminder that laughter sometimes really is the best medicine. 

The history of doctors and medicine, Fabiani writes in his foreword, is a grimly serious one. “Happily, though, not all is doom and gloom. The long story of medicine is embroidered with a rich seam of anecdote — a success...

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