Book Review: “The Sick Rose”

A brief review of Richard Barnett’s 2014 book “The Sick Rose; Disease and The Art of Medical Illustration”, book contains 243 pages.


Richard Barnett’s “The Sick Rose” Is more of a compendium of illustrations pertaining to disease, rather than a descriptive non-fiction text. What text there is utilizes historical sources and descriptions. This provides the reader with a view of how a multitude diseases were viewed when first encountered. Often in the form of outbreaks.

 What I loved about the book

I avidly consumed what text was in this book, it was very well written. The text also gave an insight into how medical professionals diagnosed and attempted to cure a variety of diseases in their time. Which was the primary reason for me purchasing the book.The chapters are split based on the disease in question rather than historical period. This allowed me to gain multiple viewpoints of how certain diseases were treated over multiple periods and countries.

 What I didn’t love about the book

The illustrations allow he viewer to see the disease for what it is. However, some of them are truly stomach turning material. The benefit of this is that nosy bystanders on public transport will give you plenty of room when viewing some of the more gruesome colour plates.

Final Word on The Sick Rose

Due to the minimal amount of text this book received a lower review than I would normally give a book on the subject. While many of the pictures are gruesome, I would still encourage people to read it. If anything so as to gain an understanding of how horrific some of the earlier diseases humans encountered truly were. Without such detailed images, comprehending the damaging extent of the described diseases would be quite difficult.


3/5 – “An interesting if squeamish read. Do not recommend when contemplating food or in polite company”

The Sick Rose Book Cover