A combination of narrative and analysis, the book documents Perdomo's experiences in Colombia and Ecuador and offers valuable insights into the social history of medicine during the Great Transformation in nineteenth-century Latin America. Reactions to Perdomo also illuminate the conflicts between colonial and modern and between religious and secular belief systems in Latin America during this time. This era pitted the norms of colonial Latin America against forces of change that shaped contemporary Latin America. Perdomo's practice of medicine demonstrated a strong religious influence that liberals thought were incompatible with a modern, secular society.
But Perdomo also had his detractors. Physicians, formally trained medicos, and those who supported scientific modernization were critical of Perdomo's practice of Hispanic medicine, even though it was part of the medical system of the day. Blending Catholic healing beliefs with indigenous and African medical ideologies, Hispanic medicine challenged the innovations occurring in the professional medical community.