Disease is the true ‘serial killer’ of human history: the horrors of bubonic plague, cholera, leprosy, syphilis, typhoid, and the like have had a more devastating impact on humankind than the depredations of warfare, famine, and natural disaster. And despite the many advances in treatment over the past 200 years, disease continues to blight the lives of many millions today, especially in the countries of the developing world.Disease describes the growth and spread of 30 of history’s most significant and feared illnesses, from tuberculosis to typhus, and from AIDS to Ebola. The diseases are grouped in four categories—bacterial diseases, parasitic diseases, viral diseases, and “non-communicable” diseases; each essay provides a broad overview and chronology of the disease in question, describing its effects on human society, the discovery of its causal agent and the efforts of scientists and others to prevent or treat it.Disease is embellished by 150 striking and rarely seen images, and amplified by boxed features exploring some intriguing—and occasionally astounding—episodes, issues and anecdotes in the history of disease, from the strange outbreak of dancing mania in medieval Europe to the desperate search for “Typhoid Mary” in early 20th-century America, and from the reasons for the lethality of the 1918–19 influenza pandemic to the continuing mysteries of the cause of the Black Death and the origins of the HIV/AIDS virus. Comprehensive timelines for each disease, and numerous arresting and moving quotations, complete an impressive array of ancillary editorial features.Disease is both an enthraling collection of tales of the terror and fascination of plague, pox and pestilence, and a concise and accessible history of disease and humankind’s struggle against it over three millennia. It is a timely and revelatory work of popular social history by a writer whose knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, her subject shines out from her every word.
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About the Author
MARY DOBSON is an historian of medicine and an expert in the history of tropical and infectious diseases. She is the author of numerous articles and books ranging from academic titles to popular science and history, including The Story of Medicine (Quercus). She has held a number of prestigious research fellowships and was Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine and a Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford.