The reactions of professional historians to Foucault's Histoire de la folie seem, at first reading, ambivalent, not to say polarized. There are many acknowledgements of its seminal role, beginning with Robert Mandrou 's early review in Annales , characterizing it as a "beautiful book" that will be "of central importance for our understanding of the Classical period." Twenty years later, Michael MacDonald confirmed Mandrou's prophecy: "Anyone who writes about the history of insanity in early modern Europe must travel in the spreading wake of Michael Foucault's famous book, Madness and Civilization ." Later endorsements have been even stronger. Jan Goldstein : "For both their empirical content and their powerful theoretical perspectives, the works of Michel Foucault occupy a special and central place in the historiography of psychiatry." Roy Porter: "Time has proved Madness and Civilization far the most penetrating work ever written on the history of madness." More specifically, Foucault has recently been heralded as a prophet of "the new cultural history." But criticism has also been widespread and often bitter.