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3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  276 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Unlike most of its victims, smallpox has had a long life: The scourge appeared at least as early as 8000 B.C., and it wasn't declared eradicated until 1980. Dr. Jonathan Tucker, director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute, is convinced that we still stand in peril of its death force. He cites disturbing evidence about ...more
MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published 2001)
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John Gurney
Apr 15, 2015 John Gurney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smallpox was a far greater killer than the plague, but is fading from memory after its successful elimination. This well-written book covers the history and the suspenseful drive to risky variolation, safer vaccination, and the eventual end to the scourge. Smallpox killed about 1/3 of its victims and is easily spread by inhalation. Names like D.A. Henderson are now not well known, but should be, for freeing humanity of its greatest viral killer. At a small cost, smallpox was isolated and destroy ...more
Feb 17, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a not so bad continuation of The Speckled Monster, with a decent amount of details about the actual smallpox eradication campaigns that occurred. I'm not particularly convinced that smallpox will ever be the same sort of threat that it once was. It sounds to me like the containment efforts that happened in the waning days of the smallpox epidemic were decently well handled, and while global movement is a lot faster and more widespread, our technology has significantly improved as we ...more
Sep 25, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
I read this book as background research for my next novel. Complete, accurate information in an easy-to-read style.
Mar 12, 2017 Aishuu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book; very much about the scientific aspects of the eradication and speculation of the use of smallpox as a biological weapon. The history section could've been strengthened, but it's very thorough for the 20th century.
Jun 11, 2014 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014

In Scourge, Jonathan Tucker chronicles the process of finding and creating, in mass quantities, a vaccine for smallpox. He discusses in great detail the long process of vaccine creation, specifically the vaccine for smallpox. There is some basic discussion of the smallpox virus itself and its affects not only on the human body but the world population as well. Considered a scourge that has been eradicated from the world since 1980 by the World Health Organization, smallpox continues to p
Jul 11, 2014 J.S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-medical
Small pox used to be a dreaded disease, killing millions the world over. The variola virus is extremely contagious and kills between 10 and 30 percent of it's victims. But in spite of it's prevalence, a number of factors inspired some to dream that it might be possible to eradicate this terrifying menace. From the English physician Edward Jenner, who developed a vaccine, to D. A. Hendrickson's tireless efforts with the CDC and WHO to overcome political, bureaucratic, and social resistance in man ...more
Marathon County Public Library MCPL
Jonathan Tucker narrates a spell-binding story in amazing factual detail of smallpox. This deadly disease was heroically eradicated from our planet, along with its hideous, painful, disfiguring and often fatal characteristics. Many elderly citizens around the world bear the scar from smallpox vaccination, a practice now discontinued for the general population. The surprising history of how this came about was enlightening (Russia, not the US was the driving force behind it), and Tucker doesn't s ...more
Dec 12, 2013 katnick rated it really liked it
Scourge is an informative, well-researched, and surprisingly readable overview of the history of smallpox. I was fascinated by early anecdotes of the disease and its treatment and found new heroes in the detailed chronicle of the intensified (and ultimately successful) global eradication campaign from the '60s and '70s. I found it difficult to get through the subsequent chapters covering the debate over whether to destroy the remaining laboratory samples, but I suspect that had more to do with m ...more
Sep 14, 2008 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Epidemiology fans
Recommended to Renee by: Ted Turner, no really
Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox, by Jonathan Tucker, is an excellent primer on the long, gory history of a disease that’s not well understood today, even though it was doing damage since ancient times. Tucker takes the reader through Edward Jennings amazing discovery, through the worldwide eradication of the disease under the auspices of WHO, through the international debate as to whether or not to destroy the remaining stores of the virus, then lastly discusses the potential of ...more
In 2015 the world powers continue to focus on the threat of nuclear proliferation. That is all well and good. Nuclear weapons are extremely destructive to infrastructure, people and other living things. However, communicable diseases are also disruptive to society. In the past disease ridden goods and bodies were used to infect the enemy and his population. Smallpox was among those diseases. Smallpox is very virulent and would devastate modern societies. Vaccination of people ended for most of t ...more
Jul 20, 2011 Marks54 rated it liked it
This book is a biography of an epidemic - smallpox from its first occurrences until its eradication in the wild late in the 20th century. The discussion of how a smallpox plague works and how it affects subsequent generations in the population was terrific. It is clear that this has been a very influential disease. The public health campaign to eradicate smallpox was to me the highlight of the book and really enlightening. These sorts of campaigns are not frequently discussed. The potential for ...more
Tom Schulte
This was a fascinating, enlightening look at the history of small pox. The story is basically three acts, I: in antiquity, II: combating and defeat of small box, and III: political impediments to destroying remaining stockpiles. III is rather tedious and even disheartening. II stood out the most to me with Soviet Russia's successful internationalist instigation for a global effort to wipe out the disease and the engineering solutions of the US Army's jet injector and the bifurcated needle used d ...more
Nov 06, 2013 Cara rated it liked it
This is neither a particularly good nor a particularly bad history of smallpox - throughout history, the creation of the first vaccine, the campaign to end smallpox infections, and finally the campaign to destroy the last remaining samples of the disease. If you've read anything about this subject before, you won't find anything new or exciting in here. In fact, the information is a bit dated - having been published over a decade ago, it can't comment on anything that has happened since 2001: te ...more
Nov 19, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
Interesting topic...I like unusual medical stuff and am one of those weirdos who watches videos of people pulling bot flies from their body.
The political dynamics involving the efforts to eradicate small pox was too detailed for me so I skimmed much of that. Pretty dry.
If you were born after 1970-72 it's highly likely you didn't get a small pox vaccine. Also, vaccines are generally only good for 10 years or so as evidenced by whooping cough (pertussis) outbreaks here in Ann Arbor in the past ye
Fraser Sherman
Nov 30, 2013 Fraser Sherman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike most disease-history books I've read, the focus in smallpox is on the fight against it, and how the 20th century saw it utterly eradicated from the natural world (and it was much more of a job than I realized when it was happening). Tucker then follows the convoluted political debates that led to the USA and the USSR preserving smallpox virus samples in the lab on what Tucker shows are the debatable grounds this would be effective in the event someone finds a way to use smallpox for biowa ...more
Apr 01, 2014 Liz rated it liked it
For a public health nerd such as myself, a book that details the eradication of smallpox in the world is a great read. It was informative and interesting to learn about how it all happened and the various players involved. I read about 1/2 to 2/3 and then skimmed the rest, as it was actually TOO much detail for me. If you want to know EVERY twist and turn and nook and cranny, this certainly has it. I didn't particularly care for the writing style, but it wasn't terrible or difficult to follow. A ...more
May 22, 2013 Jferguson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to do a paper on small pox and this book gave me alot of info that I needed to have a great A+ paper. It is not just for information but for entertainment also so you won't be reading fact after fact. He uses some jokes here and there just to keep the reader interested even though fo some that may not be needed
Jun 12, 2009 Ellee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 300-400pgs
So far at about halfway through, this is just all right. I thought it would have more historical information, but most of the book is about the eradication efforts in the mid-20th Century, which I already was fairly familiar with. So far, I'd pick almost any other pestilence book besides this one.
Mar 22, 2008 Ahmar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: public health folks, people into politics and health
Follows the smallpox eradication program and events subsequent. Interesting read, however, I expected more on the eradication campaign. More than half the book discusses the aftermath of eradication; and a hefty chunk of this records sociopolitical ramifications in laborious detail. 3.5 stars, really.
Mar 31, 2014 Kaetrin rated it really liked it
Fascinating and scary. The narrator was no Grover Gardner but he did manage to keep my interest and the text was well written and accessible. Not quite as easy to get into as the DT Max book (The Family That Couldn't Sleep) but very good.
a creepy and interesting book about smallpox. It was an easy read (about 4ish hours)that is not a heavy science reading. It is more of a public health history about the attempts to banish smallpox from the world to the WHO program to end the disease.
Aug 26, 2011 Dean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Great history of the disease, and of the tireless work of the World Health Organization in eradicating it from humanity. Also touches upon the stubbornness of our governments to finally get rid of the remaining samples, and the threats this presents.
Nathan Douthit
Oct 31, 2013 Nathan Douthit rated it liked it
Very good historical overview of the disease and the eradication. Sufficient overview without being too scientific. Interesting points raised in the last few chapters about the use of weaponized smallpox and the dangers presented by the world's unpreparedness.
It's scary to think that any day, some terrorist may turn Smallpox into a weapon, and we'd all be vulnerable again. On the other hand, it shows what this world can accomplish if we are willing to cut through the red tape and work together.
May 24, 2008 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A frightening account of the failure of both the US, USSR and the global health community to irradicate Smallpox and the very real and forgotten dangers its existence still poses to human health.
Not for the faint of heart as some of the descriptions can be quite gruesome.
Jul 11, 2015 AnnieM rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I now know more about small pox and how the WHO has worked to curb it and other infectious diseases.

It was interesting in parts but kind of dry in others. Oddly enough, I needed that as I prepare to read Missoula.
Mar 29, 2014 Donnie rated it liked it
A little technical but the details were fascinating. Birth of vaccinations and the politics involved in trying to contain and then eliminate this amazing disease. Really complex, costly effort to get to the point where we are today.
Captain Marcus
Sep 08, 2012 Captain Marcus rated it it was amazing
Scourge is to smallpox what The Hot Zone is to Ebola. Even if you don't like histories of diseases, the true account of the Russians' insane tinkering with genetic engineering superviruses at the end of the Cold War is both chilling and engrossing.
Jeff Keehr
I listened to this book simply because Rose rented it and I wanted to get our money's worth. It is a poorly conceived book in that the author never truly involves you in the unfolding of the story: he makes it very impersonal, in the worst textbook style.
Aug 04, 2015 Jordan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was ok. The first half read like a public health textbook, as did the sections about the international debate over destroying smallpox stockpiles. However, the discussion of bioterrorism was very interesting. Very scary stuff!
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