This book provides a historical narrative about Romania’s modernization. It focuses on one group of the country’s elites in the late nineteenth century, health professionals, and on the vision of a modern Romania that they constructed as they interacted with peasants and rural life. Doctors ventured out from the cities and became a familiar sight on the dusty country roads of Moldavia and Wallachia, for new health legislation required general practitioners (medici de plasă) to visit the villages in their districts twice every month. Some of them were motivated by charity, and others by patriotism, as the rural world became ever more prominent in Romania's national ideology.
Based on original research, including doctors’ public health reports and memoirs, the book describes the rural conditions in Romania between 1860 and 1910 and the doctors' efforts to improve the peasants’ way of life. The author illuminates a variety of aspects of social life based on the doctors' reports on the peasant and the rural world, including general hygiene, clothing, dwellings, nutrition, drinking habits and healing. He places official measures, laws, regulations, and modern norms about public health in the context of a broader modernizing process.