This book has been described as a 'watershed work [which] has probably not received the credit it deserves'. Its author, John Pringle (1707-82), gained his experience of military medicine as physician to Lord Stair, the commander of the British army in Europe. The duke of Cumberland later promoted him to physician-general, and he served in the army until 1748. His 'observations' were published in 1752, and were immediately successful: this revised second edition was published in 1753, and many further editions followed. Pringle became acutely aware that the field and permanent hospitals designed to treat wounded soldiers were in fact a large part of the problem of sickness and death, since contagious diseases spread rapidly among weakened men in unhygienic surroundings. He made practical suggestions to improve hygiene and isolate the sick, but unfortunately his often simple proposals were ignored by the army high command for almost a century.