Slavonic and East European Review

"This impressive book opens new paths of consideration for our understanding of the evolution of Russia’s professions. Elisa Becker approaches her story from a very rewarding and challenging angle: examining the development of medical disciplinary authority in autocratic Russia across the entire imperial period, she focuses on an occupational group that by its very definition — given in Peter the Great’s Military Statute from 1716, which defined the state physician as forensic physician — assumed a pivotal position at the intersection of autocratic policies, and both the legal and medical professions. Becker takes the challenge to bridge the gap between heretofore isolated histories of either Russian medicine or Russian law in order to scrutinize the mechanics by which the emergence of the two closely intertwined professions was inherently linked to the transformation in legal structures in the reform and post-reform period. Ultimately, the book departs from many common assumptions, in particular concerning the relationship and interaction between the autocratic state and its medical and legal professions. One of the many strengths of the book is the author’s emphasis on continuity within the changes brought about by the judicial reform. Her work is based on a wide range of research and, likewise, on a thorough knowledge and impressive command of a broad spectrum of historiographical and theoretical literature. The bibliographical references are meticulously thorough, detailed and informative. This book will appeal not only to historians of Imperial Russia but also to specialists in the history of science, law and medicine, as well as to historians of the comparative history of the professions"
Reviewed book: 
Elisa M. Becker
$105.00 / €90.00 / £85.00