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The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life
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The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  73 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
AIDS. Ebola. "Killer microbes." All around us the alarms are going off, warning of the danger of new, deadly diseases. And yet, as Nancy Tomes reminds us in her absorbing book, this is really nothing new. A remarkable work of medical and cultural history, "The Gospel of Germs" takes us back to the first great "germ panic" in American history, which peaked in the early ...more
Paperback, 351 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Harvard University Press (first published 1998)
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Jun 11, 2009 Carol rated it liked it
The notion of germs spreading disease acquired currency in the late 19th century. Public-health efforts focused on better plumbing, to avoid fecal contamination of water supplies, and general cleanliness. I was amused to read that toilets were designed to flush thoroughly, something I envy given the current fad for low-flow "green" toilets that often require repeated flushing. Changes promoted to promote cleanliness included shortening women's skirts, shaving off facial hair and reducing the ...more
Oct 11, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
In this social history of microbes, Tomes explores how germ theory revolutionized the scientific beliefs and everyday life of Americans in the nineteenth century. As she demonstrates, with interesting case studies written in delightfully legible prose, the gospel of germs resulted in a religiously zealous conversion in American life, including class-based obsessions with cleanliness, the rise of antiseptic minimalism and sanitation in home design and decor (particularly in the bathroom), changes ...more
Mathew Powers
May 04, 2015 Mathew Powers rated it it was amazing
I honestly thought I would hate this book, simply because I imagined the content would read much like a dry medical journal. Wow, was I wrong! This is a social and cultural history of the U.S, using the response to germs and the fear of disease as the inspiration for social and cultural change. The writing is fantastic and the material is incredibly interesting.

I only with the title of the book (and the chapters, honestly) were different. I think more would enjoy this book if the title didn't a
Mar 28, 2015 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
One of the better books on disease I've read. Tomes focuses on the social and cultural shifts brought about by the adoption of the germ theory of disease. It is very perceptive and picks up certain subtle changes in the tone and emphasis of the "gospel of germs" that a less careful review would have missed, particularly in reference to the lingering sanitationism that survived well into the early 20th century.
Emily Brown
Jun 30, 2007 Emily Brown rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: public health science germs
Shelves: science, history
this is the masterpiece of what i enjoy. written with ease, and with fantastic biobliographies and notes: please read this book--about public health in the era of the germ.
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