Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today [NOOK Book]

Overview

In Germs, Genes and Civilization, Dr. David Clark tells the story of the microbe-driven epidemics that have repeatedly molded our human destinies. You'll discover how your genes have been shaped through millennia spent battling against infectious diseases. You'll learn how epidemics have transformed human history, over and over again, from ancient Egypt to Mexico, the Romans to Attila the Hun. You'll learn how the Black Death epidemic ended the Middle Ages, making possible the Renaissance, western democracy, and ...

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Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today

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Overview

In Germs, Genes and Civilization, Dr. David Clark tells the story of the microbe-driven epidemics that have repeatedly molded our human destinies. You'll discover how your genes have been shaped through millennia spent battling against infectious diseases. You'll learn how epidemics have transformed human history, over and over again, from ancient Egypt to Mexico, the Romans to Attila the Hun. You'll learn how the Black Death epidemic ended the Middle Ages, making possible the Renaissance, western democracy, and the scientific revolution. Clark demonstrates how epidemics have repeatedly shaped not just our health and genetics, but also our history, culture, and politics. You'll even learn how they may influence religion and ethics, including the ways they may help trigger cultural cycles of puritanism and promiscuity. Perhaps most fascinating of all, Clark reveals the latest scientific and philosophical insights into the interplay between microbes, humans, and society - and previews what just might come next.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780137068685
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 1/22/2010
  • Series: FT Press Science
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 720,361
  • File size: 335 KB

Meet the Author

David Clark was born June 1952 in Croydon, a London suburb. After winning a scholarship to Christ’s College, Cambridge, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973. In 1977, he earned his Ph.D. from Bristol University for work on antibiotic resistance. David then left England for postdoctoral research at Yale and then the University of Illinois. He joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University in 1981 and is now a professor in the Microbiology Department. In 1991, he visited Sheffield University, England, as a Royal Society Guest Research Fellow. The U.S. Department of Energy funded David’s research into the genetics and regulation of bacterial fermentation from 1982 till 2007. David has published more than 70 articles in scientific journals and graduated more than 20 masters and Ph.D. students. David is the author of Molecular Biology Made Simple and Fun, now in its third edition, as well as three more serious textbooks.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Chapter 1: Introduction: our debt to disease 1

Epidemics select genetic alterations 4

Every cloud has a silver lining: our debt to disease 6

Crowding and culling 8

The message of this book 11

Chapter 2: Where did our diseases come from? 13

Africa: homeland of mankind and malaria 13

Many human diseases originated in animals 17

Are new diseases virulent to start with? 24

Diseases from rodents 29

Leprosy is a relatively new disease 30

What goes around comes around 32

Chapter 3: Transmission, overcrowding, and virulence 33

Virulence and the spread of disease 33

Infectious and noninfectious disease 34

Many diseases become milder with time 40

Development of genetic resistance to disease 47

Hunting and gathering 56

How do microorganisms become dangerous? 60

Chapter 4: Water, sewers, and empires 67

Introduction: the importance of biology 67

Irrigation helps agriculture but spreads germs 68

The class system, water, and infection 69

The origin of diarrheal diseases 70

Cholera comes from the Indian subcontinent 71

Cholera and the water supply 72

The rise and fall of the Indus Valley civilization 74

Cities are vulnerable to waterborne diseases 76

Cholera, typhoid, and cystic fibrosis 78

How did disease affect the rise of Rome? 81

How much did malaria contribute to the fall of Rome? 83

Uncivilized humans and unidentified diseases 86

Bubonic plague makes an appearance 90

Chapter 5: Meat and vegetables 93

Eating is hazardous to your health 93

Hygiene in the home 96

Cannibalism is hazardous to your health 97

Mad cow disease in England 99

The political response 101

Mad cow disease in humans 102

Fungal diseases and death in the countryside 103

Fungal diseases and cereal crops 104

Religious mania induced by fungi 106

Catastrophes caused by fungi 109

Human disease follows malnutrition 110

Coffee or tea? 111

Opportunistic fungal pathogens 112

Friend or enemy 113

Chapter 6: Pestilence and warfare 115

Who kills more? 115

Spread of disease by the military 116

Is it better to besiege or to be besieged? 118

Disease promotes imperial expansion 120

Protozoa help keep Africa black 122

Is bigger really better? 123

Disease versus enemy action 125

Typhus, warrior germ of the temperate zone 126

Jails, workhouses, and concentration camps 129

Germ warfare 130

Psychology, cost, and convenience 131

Anthrax as a biological weapon 132

Amateurs with biological weapons are rarely effective 132

Which agents are used in germ warfare? 134

World War I and II 136

Germ warfare against rabbits 137

Germ warfare is unreliable 138

Genetic engineering of diseases 139

Chapter 7: Venereal disease and sexual behavior 141

Venereal disease is embarrassing 141

Promiscuity, propaganda, and perception 144

The arrival of syphilis in Europe 145

Relation between venereal and skin infections 148

AIDS is an atypical venereal disease 149

Origin of AIDS among African apes and monkeys 150

Worldwide incidence and spread of AIDS 151

The Church, morality, and venereal infections 154

Moral and religious responses to AIDS 155

Public health and AIDS 156

Inherited resistance to AIDS 158

The ancient history of venereal disease 159

Chapter 8: Religion and tradition: health below or heaven above? 163

Religion and health care 163

Belief and expectation 165

Roman religion and epidemics 166

Infectious disease and early religious practices 167

Worms and serpents 168

Sumerians, Egyptians, and ancient Greece 169

Hygiene and religious purity 171

Protecting the living from the dead 173

Diverting evil spirits into animals 175

Cheaper rituals for the poor 177

Vampires, werewolves, and garlic 178

Divine retribution versus individual justice 179

The rise of Christianity 181

Coptic Christianity and malaria 184

Messianic Taoism during the collapse of Han China 185

Buddhism and smallpox in first-millennium Japan 186

The European Middle Ages and the Black Death 187

The Great Plague of London 189

Loss of Christian faith in industrial Europe 190

Cleanliness is next to godliness 191

Chapter 9: Manpower and slavery 193

Legacy of the last Ice Age 193

The New World before contact 194

Indigenous American infections 195

Lack of domesticated animals in America 197

The first epidemic in the Caribbean 198

Epidemics sweep the American mainland 200

The religious implications 202

Deliberate use of germ warfare 203

Slavery and African diseases 204

Exposure of islands to mainland diseases 205

Cholera and good intentions 206

The issue of biological isolation 207

Spotted fevers and rickettsias 208

The origins of typhus are uncertain 209

What about the Vikings? 211

Chapter 10: Urbanization and democracy 213

Cities as population sinks 213

Viral diseases in the city 214

Bacterial diseases in the city 215

The Black Death 216

Climatic changes: the “Little Ice Age” 217

The Black Death frees labor in Europe 218

Death rates and freedom in Europe 219

The Black Death and religion 221

The White Plague: tuberculosis 223

The rise of modern hygiene 224

The collapse of the European empires 226

Resistant people? 227

How clean is too clean? 228

Where are we now? 229

Chapter 11: Emerging diseases and the future 231

Pandemics and demographic collapse 231

The various types of emerging diseases 232

Changes in knowledge 233

Changes in the agent of disease 233

Changes in the human population 234

Changes in contact between victims and germs 235

The supposed re-emergence of tuberculosis 236

Diseases are constantly emerging 237

How dangerous are novel viruses? 239

Transmission of emerging viruses 241

Efficient transmission and genuine threats 242

The history and future of influenza 243

The great influenza epidemic of 1918—1919 243

Disease and the changing climate 245

Technology-borne diseases 246

Emergence of antibiotic resistance 247

Disease and the food supply 250

Overpopulation and microbial evolution 251

Predicting the future 252

Future emerging diseases 254

Gloom and doom or a happy ending? 254

Further reading 257

Index 261

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2012

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    This was a most interesting book and subject for me, especially

    This was a most interesting book and subject for me, especially considering the fact that I never even had biology in college. While many of the premises the author provides are fairly easy to grasp, there were some things that I simply was unprepared to comprehend. Instead of feeling frustration while reading these parts, however, I found I wished I could be in a classroom studying this subject and able to ask the teacher questions on so many things.

    Usually I am more inclined to read fiction for entertainment. As noted in a few other reviews, however, I found this book to be a page turner.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

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    I Also Recommend:

    This was an excellent book. It's well written for the lay person

    This was an excellent book. It's well written for the lay person. Anyone who's taken high school biology, or even just 7th grade life sciences, will have no problems understanding the biological aspects of this book. It makes for a nice companion to Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies in explaining how societies have been affected by the germs they've been exposed to. It's not terribly long, but it's broken up into sub-chapters every couple of pages. The table of contents is longer than some of the sub-chapters. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest history, anthropology or sociology as well as those who are interested in biology (specifically diseases).

    The eBook was formatted fine with no obvious errors.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    Really accessible and fascinating

    Can only recommend this one. Great analysis and full of stories and parallels with the past. The only drawback I can think of would be some repetitions in the exemples. It's really a keeper!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2012

    This book was amazingly fascinating! I thought it would be inter

    This book was amazingly fascinating! I thought it would be interesting, but found that I couldn't put it down. I would love to be one of Dr Clark's students - he presents his subject in such a clear, simple, understandable way! The book pointed out many aspects of history that I had never considered before, making me realize how critical disease was to political events. I strongly recommend this as a great read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2011

    I found this book very interesting and readable.

    I really enjoyed this book. It is an interesting perspective on how we - the world has arrived where we are today. Well written and readable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Fascinating book. Well written and easy to understand for regula

    Fascinating book. Well written and easy to understand for regular people who did not major in biology or medicine. I would recommend this for everyone, so everyone can undertand how illnesses are spread.

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