“Seven infectious diseases (smallpox, leprosy, plague, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and AIDS) are covered in this excellent book . . . As exciting as any work of fiction . . . A riveting account.”
Starred, School Library Journal
“Superb. The author has an amazing ability to combine exciting storytelling and accurate scientific explanation to captivate students.”
The "enemies" of the title are those microorganisms that infect mankind, and as the author explains, this is a group of foes we will never truly vanquish. The first disease reviewed is smallpox, which has been obliterated, but the last chapter reviews AIDS, which is still flourishing. Each chapter explores one of seven infectious diseases: smallpox, leprosy, plague, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera and AIDS. The sociopolitical impact of the disease is discussed, for instance, in addition to the oft-told story of the effect of smallpox on the indigenous peoples of the Americas, we learn that cholera decimated the Masai and caused them to lose control of what is now Kenya. The scientists who studied each infection are profiled, with insights into the factors that drove their interests. The text is chock full of fascinating tidbits, for example, the gin and tonic was developed by folks in India who sought a more palatable manner to consume the quinine they needed to ward off malaria. RenT Ladnnec, who suffered from tuberculosis, was inspired to invent the stethoscope by the impropriety of placing his ear upon the chest of a female patient combined with the difficulty hearing through the chest wall if said patient was obese. There is little with which to quibble in this book-the author has clearly done her homework, avoiding the small errors that often creep into ambitious texts such as this. I would have liked maps illustrating the spread of epidemics. The chapter on AIDS doesn't discuss the biggest success in that battle, namely the discovery that treating pregnant women with a single drug reduces the risk of transmission to her infant from 25 to 8 percent. Black and white photographs and reproductions from period manuscripts enhance the text. A glossary, bibliography and index are included. The book is an engrossing read, and will also be an asset in the school library for research purposes.
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
This superb book, an update to the 1998 edition of the same title (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998/VOYA October 1998), explores the stories of smallpox, leprosy, plague, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and AIDS. The author has an amazing ability to combine exciting storytelling and accurate scientific explanation to captivate students with stories of the impact of these diseases throughout history and the efforts to eliminate them. Personal stories include Lady Mary Montagu introducing the Turkish practice of inoculation against smallpox to England and the poignant story of a leper doomed to live in the leprosarium in Louisiana. Artistic depictions of these diseases include a French doctor's eighteenth-century anti-plague outfit, a cartoon of a Berliner's efforts to ward off cholera, and a drawing of a "tree of fevers" from a 1712 Italian medical book. Mileposts in the war on disease include Snow's epidemiological study of cholera in London and Robert Koch's methodology for identifying the cause of tuberculosis. Libraries that already have the previous edition will want the new version as there is considerable current information on global projects to identify victims and provide access to treatment, particularly in the developing countries. Bioterrorism presents a new threat from smallpox. Isolated villages present challenges for the eradication of leprosy. In 2003, forty-two million people were infected with AIDS, but only four hundred thousand received treatment. Only 2 percent in Africa were receiving treatment. The lively stories are certain to entice even the most reluctant of readers. This book is as valuable for history and current issues as for science. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hardto imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Farrar Straus Giroux, 272p.; Glossary. Index. Biblio. Further Reading., $18. Ages 11 to 18.
This author's first book gives insight into diseases that have been the scourges of mankind. The stories of plague, tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, smallpox, cholera, and AIDS are related in the context of the scientific knowledge and social conditions at different time periods and in different countries. Well-known stories of Jenner's cowpox vaccination, Robert Koch's tubercle bacillus, and Hanson's leprosy bacillus are all covered. Lesser known, but equally exciting stories include Lady Montagu's pre-Jenner smallpox vaccination and Snow's study of the Southwark Waterworks connection to the cholera epidemic in London. The burning of Jews to prevent the plague and the isolation of lepers illustrate the social problems of the afflicted. The author's intimacy with her subject matter results in clarity and scientific accuracy, as well as lively storytelling. Excerpts from original notes and letters, as well as an amazing collection of cartoons and photographs transport the reader straight to the drama. The stories of scientific inquiry relate the knowledge of each time period and how the inquiry relates to later knowledge. The reader is left with a sense of awe about how medical research had been conducted in earlier times with limited knowledge and technology. Students will certainly enjoy reading this book, once directed to it, and science and history teachers will find it invaluable. Put this one at the top of your priority list and hope for more books from this author. Index. Illus. Biblio. Further Reading. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12). Straus & Giroux,
Gr 6 Up-This revised volume retains all of the involving personal stories of the original (Farrar, 1998), and six out of the seven chapters contain additional, updated material including more recent statistics. The author still focuses on seven dreaded human diseases: smallpox, leprosy, plague, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and AIDS. Each chapter provides a description of the physical and psychological effects of the disease on its victims, early theories about its causes, and efforts made to avoid or cure it. Then the methods of research that revealed its cause and developed the means to control its spread are explained in fascinating detail. The new section on smallpox offers eight added pages that discuss the Russian biological weapons development program plus the controversial smallpox vaccination plans following September 11, 2001. Progress in the development and distribution of treatment drugs for AIDS to developing nations is detailed in half a dozen new pages. First-person accounts by sufferers from Hansen's disease (leprosy) and by observers of the plague resemble the drama of a modern reality TV show. The excellent sources listed in the annotated suggestions for further reading and the bibliography in the first edition are joined by four more items. In short, Farrell has taken her outstanding work and made it even better. If every science book for nonspecialists were written with such flair and attention to detail, science would soon become every student's favorite subject.-Ann G. Brouse, Steele Memorial Library, Elmira, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Focusing on seven specific diseases, Farrell, a medical student with considerable experience with her topic, presents a scientist's view of these scourges. The anecdotal style is accessible; the tone, conversational; the whole, informative, with ample documentation to ensure credibility for her presentation. Never pedantic, the book complements and extends James Cross Giblin's
When Plague Strikes, which has a similar theme in its analysis of the ways in which such diseases have inflicted social stigmas on the afflicted, increasing their sufferings while inhibiting the search for effective treatment and cure. The copious use of illustrative material, ranging from historical drawings to photographs, gives the book the appearance of a documentary in contrast to Giblin's reliance on narrative interpreted by dramatic woodcuts. Farrell includes diseases such as cholera, leprosy, malaria, and tuberculosis which, despite devastating effects in particular areas and among certain populations, lack the epidemic or pandemic proportions of the other diseases she discusses, Black Death, smallpox, and AIDS, which are also presented by Giblin. Her approach differs from Giblin's because of her particular orientation emphasizing the pathology of the disease as well as its social consequences. The details, while sometimes gruesome, are leavened by an emphasis on the need for research and rational responses rather than uninformed reactions. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the chapter on leprosy, a disease feared and abhorred throughout history, causing the afflicted to endure isolation, persecution, and sometimes execution for what was considered an unclean state (see review of Mette Newth's The Dark Light on page 493). That it is difficult to transmit and that laboratory animals, except for the armadillo, are impervious to its ravages, exemplify the selection of illustrative detail found in each chapter. And while many of the mysteries surrounding these diseases may never be fully unraveled, certainly this book will increase understanding by helping the reader "to face the tricks the microbe world has to offer and to discover...the ways of the human spirit."
. . .[U]p-to-date, straightforward essays. . . .The emphasis is historical and clinical: what happened, what still happens and what is done for it. . . .a. . .level well suited to readers 12 years old and up.