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The Deadly Truth: A History of Disease in America / Edition 1

The Deadly Truth: A History of Disease in America / Edition 1

by Gerald N. Grob


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The Deadly Truth: A History of Disease in America / Edition 1

The Deadly Truth chronicles the complex interactions between disease and the peoples of America from the pre-Columbian world to the present.

Grob's ultimate lesson is stark but valuable: there can be no final victory over disease. The world in which we live undergoes constant change, which in turn creates novel risks to human health and life. We conquer particular diseases, but others always arise in their stead. In a powerful challenge to our tendency to see disease as unnatural and its virtual elimination as a real possibility, Grob asserts the undeniable biological persistence of disease.

Diseases ranging from malaria to cancer have shaped the social landscape—sometimes through brief, furious outbreaks, and at other times through gradual occurrence, control, and recurrence. Grob integrates statistical data with particular peoples and places while giving us the larger patterns of the ebb and flow of disease over centuries. Throughout, we see how much of our history, culture, and nation-building was determined—in ways we often don't realize—by the environment and the diseases it fostered.

The way in which we live has shaped, and will continue to shape, the diseases from which we get sick and die. By accepting the presence of disease and understanding the way in which it has physically interacted with people and places in past eras, Grob illuminates the extraordinarily complex forces that shape our morbidity and mortality patterns and provides a realistic appreciation of the individual, social, environmental, and biological determinants of human health.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674017573
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/31/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 930,430
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.87(h) x 0.93(d)

About the Author

Gerald N. Grob was Henry E. Sigerist Professor of the History of Medicine, Emeritus, at Rutgers University.

Table of Contents



1. The Pre-Columbians

2. New Diseases in the Americas

3. Colonies of Sickness

4. The Promise of Enlightened Health

5. Threats to Urban Health

6. Expanding America, Declining Health

7. Threats of Industry

8. Stopping the Spread of Infection

9. The Discovery of Chronic Illness

10. No Final Victory



What People are Saying About This

David Rosner

Coming at a moment when society seems intoxicated by the power of new genetic discoveries, Grob has provided a necessary historical perspective that may aid us in developing a more measured set of expectations and more reasonable social policies.
David Rosner, co-author of Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution

Leon Eisenberg

The Deadly Truth is an intellectually exciting and morally sobering account of the role of disease in the history of the Americas. It reminds us of what health care has contributed to better and healthier lives for Americans, but cautions us against the futility of dreams of a disease-free world.
Leon Eisenberg, Harvard Medical School

Edward Shorter

One of the most distinguished American historians of medicine, Grob gives us an overview of disease from pre-colonial times to the present that is fresh, authoritative and accessibly written. Going against half a century of hype about "medical progress," he concludes that we really don't understand why we're living longer, and that great future breakthroughs in dealing with chronic disease are likely to prove elusive.
Edward Shorter, author of A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac

John C. Burnham

The Deadly Truth is a fascinating narrative history of diseases that have afflicted Americans for four centuries. Every reader, regardless of background, will discover many new data and insights about diseases and humans. This book will be an authoritative point of departure for a host of thoughtful scientists and scholars.
John C. Burnham, Ohio State University

Charles E. Rosenberg

Ambitious and impressive. Grob has drawn upon work from a half-dozen disciplines to shape what might be called a biocultural history of disease in North America; there is no other book quite like it.
Charles E. Rosenberg, Harvard University

Rosemary A. Stevens

A trenchant, thorough and wide-ranging analysis of what we know--and what we still don't know--about the burdens of disease. This book is a good read: provocative, forceful, and consistently interesting.
Rosemary A. Stevens, author of American Medicine and the Public Interest

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