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From The CriticsReviewer: Joseph R. Lentino, M.D.,Ph.D(Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine)
Description: This is an update of the first edition, which was published prior to the AIDS epidemic. This is an excellent and quite fascinating summary of impact of microbial and non-microbial induced diseases on the outcome of human endeavors.
Purpose: The book proposes to familiarize the reader with the impact of disease on the development of human civilization. The author is a masterful storyteller who holds the reader's interest throughout each chapter. I believe these to be worthy objectives since learned individuals should know history so as to not repeat the mistakes of the past. The book succeeds in its purpose.
Audience: This book can be read by the general public. Infectious Disease practitioners may already know the facts behind the diseases but will be surprised and entertained by the impact of those diseases on history. I believe the author's target audience consists primarily of medical personnel. The author is a very credible authority in the book's subject matter.
Features: He presents a wonderful review of the impact of disease on the outcome of historical events such as the Battle of Trafalgar; why FDR got polio, how it changed his life and subsequently the lives of most Americans; and how the Panama canal finally was built and why it was built by the Americans and not the French. The book is thought provoking and makes one appreciate the relatively sanitary conditions we take for granted while asking how can it be so bad for the rest of the world.
Assessment: As I have never read the first edition, I can make no comparison, but the second edition is an excellent read. Do not start this book at night unless you suffer from insomnia; the stories are spellbinding to anyone who loves history.