Public health is once again in the spotlight after several decades of being eclipsed by high tech, individually-oriented medical science. The reasons for this are not hard to find - the ever escalating costs of medical care, growing disillusionment with the return on investment, particularly for the poorer sections of the community, and a growing recognition of the importance of health promotion and preventative strategies which focus on the environmental and behavioural determinants of health and disease. At the heart of the public health perspective is an emphasis on understanding whole populations through the application of epidemiological analysis. This reader addresses the need to make available some of the classics of epidemiology to the new generations of students who are now trained in public-health, and to share with them the excitement of the epidemiological method. There is a wealth of experience in our collective public-health past and as we shape the new public health there is a danger of ignoring lessons from the old. By drawing on the choices of leading contemporary epidemiologists in selecting published papers both old and new, this volume aims to make the classics accessible to teachers and students alike.