This chapter introduces the themes and argument of this study. It highlights the ways in which disease shaped military policy and the amount of energy, time, and money devoted to troop welfare by officers and imperial administrators. Such war-time responses to disease reveal the role of the state in providing medical care and in promoting and directing medical research; they also illustrate that the state’s deployment of medical expertise and display of medical care were a means of establishing public support and legitimacy. This chapter explains the methodological approach to the study of disease and war, situates this study in the historiography of the Seven Years War, and examines the concept of expertise and its role in state formation. It points to the parallels between the global scope of the Seven Years War and the structure of the book, with each chapter focusing on a different theatre of operations and on a different challenge to troop health.
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