Rats, Lice and History: A Chronicle of Disease, Plagues, and Pestilence

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Overview

The classic chronicle of the impact disease and plagues have had on history and society over the past half-millennium. Intriguingly fascinating and entertaining reading for anyone who is interested in how society copes with catastrophe and pain. Relevant today in face of the worldwide medical calamity of AIDS. Continuously in print since its first publication in 1934, with over 75 printings.

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Overview

The classic chronicle of the impact disease and plagues have had on history and society over the past half-millennium. Intriguingly fascinating and entertaining reading for anyone who is interested in how society copes with catastrophe and pain. Relevant today in face of the worldwide medical calamity of AIDS. Continuously in print since its first publication in 1934, with over 75 printings.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781884822476
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/3/1996
  • Pages: 301
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction to the Transaction Edition     ix
Preface     xxix
In the nature of an explanation and an apology     3
Being a discussion of the relationship between science and art     15
Leading up to the definition of bacteria and other parasites, and digressing briefly into the question of the origin of life     34
On parasitism in general, and on the necessity of considering the changing nature of infectious diseases in the historical study of epidemics     57
Being a continuation of Chapter IV, but dealing more particularly with so-called new diseases and with some that have disappeared     77
Diseases of the ancient world: a consideration of the epidemic diseases which afflicted the ancient world     105
A continuation of the consideration of diseases of the ancients, with particular attention to epidemics and the fall of Rome     128
On the influence of epidemic diseases on political and military history, and on the relative unimportance of generals     150
On the louse: we are now ready to consider the environment which has helped to form the character of our subject     166
More about the louse: the need for this chapter will be apparent to those who have entered into the spirit of this biography     179
Much about rats - a little about mice     189
We are at last arriving at the point at which we can approach the subjectof this biography directly     212
In which we consider the birth, childhood, and adolescence of typhus     229
In which we follow the earliest epidemic exploits of our disease     240
Young manhood: the period of early vigor and wild oats     265
Appraisal of a contemporary and prospects of future education and discipline     282
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2011

    AP World History Review: A Biologists Tale Of Mans Struggle With Typhus

    When Rats, Lice and History was published in 1935, Hans Zinsser was a highly regarded Harvard biologist who had never written about historical events. Although he had published under a false name, most of his previous writings had dealt with infectious diseases and had appeared either in scientific journals or in books. Today he is best remembered as the author of Rats, Lice and History, which remains a masterpiece of scientific writing for most readers. To Zinsser, scientific research, bacteriology and epidemiology, was his life. Yet at the same time he maintained a love of literature. His goal in Rats, Lice and History was to bring science and literature together to show the importance of infectious diseases as a major factor in human life. Zinsser cast his work as the "biography" of Typhus, with which his book is about. In his view, infectious disease simply represents an attempt of a living organism to survive. From a human perspective, an invading pathogen is absurd; from the perspective of the pathogen it is perfectly normal. This book is devoted to the biology of typhus and history of typhus fever and human reactions to it. Zinsser begins by pointing out that the pathogen was a constant companion of human beings. Under certain conditions,failure to wash or to change clothing that was infected with lice. Typhus was transmitted by fleas to human beings, who then transmitted it to other humans. Rats, Lice, and History combines Zinsser's expertise in bacteriology and epidemiology with his broad knowledge of humanity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    Rats, Lice, and History, one of the few books worth rereading

    Its really hard to find any good books anymore. Especially books that are worth reading again and again. 'Rats, Lice, and History' goes above and beyond, despite its grueling topic. Hans Zinsser does an excellent job educating us about all of these different diseases and their effect on society, while keeping the voice cool. Not being too gruesome, and not keeping it boring either. Overall, 'Rats, Lice, and History" is an excellent book that, despite its old age, keeps its enjoyment throughout the ages. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone, except for young children, of course.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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