Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914

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Overview

This book explores the links among ecology, disease, and international politics in the context of the Greater Caribbean - the landscapes lying between Surinam and the Chesapeake - in the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries. Ecological changes made these landscapes especially suitable for the vector mosquitoes of yellow fever and malaria, and these diseases wrought systematic havoc among armies and would-be settlers. Because yellow fever confers immunity on survivors of the disease, and because malaria confers resistance, these diseases played partisan roles in the struggles for empire and revolution, attacking some populations more severely than others. In particular, yellow fever and malaria attacked newcomers to the region, which helped keep the Spanish Empire Spanish in the face of predatory rivals in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century, these diseases helped revolutions to succeed by decimating forces sent out from Europe to prevent them.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"… gives a valuable framework for understanding the biology of colonization and independence in the Americas."
Lynn A. Nelson, Florida Historical Quarterly

"… a wonderful book, as fun to read as it is thought-provoking and informative."
Molly A. Warsh, Journal of World History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521459105
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2009
  • Series: New Approaches to the Americas Series
  • Pages: 390
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

J. R. McNeill is University Professor in the History Department and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His books include The Mountains of the Mediterranean World (Cambridge University Press, 2003); Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (2000), co-winner of the World History Association book prize and the Forest History Society book prize and runner-up for the BP Natural World book prize; and most recently The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History (2003), co-authored with his father, William H. McNeill. He has also published more than 40 scholarly articles in professional and scientific journals.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps xi

List of Abbreviations Used in the Footnotes xiii

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xvii

1 The Argument (and Its Limits) in Brief 1

The Argument 2

The Limits of the Argument 5

The Limits of the Novelty of the Argument 8

Part I Setting the Scene

2 Atlantic Empires and Caribbean Ecology 15

Atlantic American Geopolitics, 1620-1820 15

Ecological Transformation in the Caribbean, 1640-1750 22

Yellow Fever and Caribbean Ecology 32

Yellow Fever Transmission and Immunity 40

Epidemic Yellow Fever and Plantation Sugar 47

Malaria, Mosquitoes, and Plantations of Sugar and Rice 52

Climate Change, El Niño, Mosquitoes, and Epidemics 58

Conclusion 60

3 Deadly Fevers, Deadly Doctors 63

Early Yellow Fever Epidemics and Their Victims 64

A Virulent Strain of Medicine 68

Conclusion 86

Part II Imperial Mosquitoes

4 Fevers Take Hold: From Recife to Kourou 91

The Dutch in Brazil, 1624-1654 92

The English in Jamaica, 1655-1660 97

The Scots at Darien, 1698-1699 105

The French at Kourou, 1763-1764 123

Conclusion 135

5 Yellow Fever Rampant and British Ambition Repulsed, 1690-1780 137

Yellow Fever and the Defense of the Spanish Empire 137

The Deadly 1690s 144

Siege Ecology at Cartagena, 1741 149

The Seven Years' War and the Siege Ecology of Havana, 1762 169

Conclusion 188

Part III Revolutionary Mosquitoes

6 Lord Cornwallis vs. Anopheles quadrimaculatus, 1780-1781 195

Introduction 195

Slave Risings and Surinam's Maroons 195

Revolution and Malaria in the Southern Colonies 198

Yorktown 220

Conclusion 232

7 Revolutionary Fevers, 1790-1898; Haiti, New Granada, and Cuba 235

St. Domingue, 1790-1804 236

New Granada, 1815-1820 267

Immigration, Warfare, and Independence, 1830-1898: Mexico, the United States, and Cuba 287

Conclusion 303

8 Conclusion: Vector and Virus Vanquished, 1880-1914 304

The Argument Recapitulated 304

Vector and Virus Vanquished 306

Disease and Power 312

Bibliography 315

Index 363

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