Most histories of medicine focus on the elite royal colleges of London and the exotic diseases and squalor of the city slums, but, according to Richard Moore, the real story of the emergence of healthcare as an integral component of the welfare state was written in the provincial shires. His focus is on Shropshire, but much of Shropshire Doctors & Quacks refl ects what was going on in the country at large. The practice of medicine emerged thanks to the efforts and experiments of a disparate group of practitioners, who competed in the marketplace with quacks and charlatans and eventually achieved legal recognition as a profession in the 1858 Medical Act. Emphasis is placed on the role played by collective and individual voluntary activity, in contrast to the scanty health related activities of government. The book contains much previously unpublished archival material, and is all brought vividly to life by case studies, anecdotes, contemporary prints and cartoons. Richard Moore is a fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and the author of From Leeches to Lasers: Sketches of a Medical Family. His family has thrown up nine generations of medical men and women since 1740 (his is the seventh). Moore’s insightful take on his home county’s Aesculapian history has many implications for healthcare today, including the future of the NHS. As he asks in his speculative coda, ‘Who cares?’ It is a question our forebears tackled with creativity and compassion, and Moore wonders if twenty-fi rst-century institutions can live up to their example.