Henry Smith Williams was a medical doctor, lawyer, and author of a number of books on medicine, history, and science. He was born in 1863 and died in 1943.
Dr. Henry Smith Williams is one of our very few physicians and scientists of national reputation, combining as he does an expert knowledge of medical facts, a position of authority in his profession, and a remarkable gilt for straightforward, untechnical writing that all can understand and enjoy. Beginning his practice of medicine in 1884, he has held many positions of honor and trust, such as Medical Superintendent of the New York Infant Asylum, and the Randall's Island Hospitals, New York; Assistant Physician to Bloomingdale Asylum; and has written many authoritative books on medical and related subjects, notably: "A History of Science" , "The Wonder of Science in Modern Life", "Miracles of Science", "Adding Years to Your Life", etc., etc., also editor of "The Historians' History of the World." He has also contributed many notable articles to McClure's Magazine and to medical journals.
— , advertisement for the book Painless Childbirth
In the introductory the Author of his book Drug Addicts Are Human Beings published in 1938, it is stated that this is the author's 119th published book. In addition to his work as a writer, it is claimed that Williams had treated some 10,000 patients in his medical practice. It also announces that he was an expert on the "chemistry and biology of the blood cells" and had spent ten years intensively studying cancer. His brother was the doctor Edward Huntington Williams, with whom he wrote his "History of Science (31 volumes)".
In his book, Chasing the Scream, Johann Hari describes how the 1931 arrest and subsequent imprisonment of Williams' brother, Edward, was orchestrated by Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and that Williams, after pleading for his brother's release, spent much of the rest of his life advocating, as his brother had, for the kinder treatment of addicts (which eventually led to his writing of the book, Drug Addicts Are Human Beings), including prescribing addicts measured doses of the very drugs to which they were addicted, with surprising (anecdotal) success. In his 1938 book, Williams predicted with a high degree of accuracy that, fifty years later, drug-smuggling would grow to become a five-billion-dollar industry. Williams died still trying to end the drug war, his uncharacteristic book and his efforts at speaking out in favor of his brother's beliefs almost entirely suppressed and forgotten.