Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to Avian Flu

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Overview

Bubonic Plague. Aids. Swine Flu. For most of human history we have lived in fear of lurking epidemics. Today, deaths from epidemic disease are rare in the developed world. Yet alarmist headlines, government-issued warnings, and public health announcements maintain the illusion that the next big outbreak is just around the corner.

In Dread, Philip Alcabes examines epidemics through history to show how they reflect the particular social and cultural anxieties of their times. From Typhoid Mary to bioterrorism, as new outbreaks are unleashed or imagined, diseases can become convenient explanations for deep-seated societal anxieties. Epidemic alarm bells can be used to disguise moral crusades, racist propaganda, or political agendas. To regain our senses, argues Alcabes, we must reexamine our choice of enemies and meet future scares with a more critical eye.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586488093
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,339,716
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Philip Alcabes is an Associate Professor of Urban Public Health at Hunter College and Visiting Clinical Associate Professor at the Yale School of Nursing.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Origins of Dread 1

Chapter 1 The Sense of an Epidemic 7

Chapter 2 Plague: Birth of the Model Epidemic 21

Chapter 3 Cholera, Poverty, and the Politicized Epidemic 53

Chapter 4 Germs, Science, and the Stranger 83

Chapter 5 The Conquest of Contagion 119

Chapter 6 Postmodern Epidemics 143

Chapter 7 Managing the Imagined Epidemic 181

Epilogue: The Risk-Free Life 215

Acknowledgments 231

Notes 235

Selected Bibliography 289

Index 297

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