Nic's Reviews > Outbreak! Plagues That Changed History

Outbreak! Plagues That Changed History by Bryn Barnard
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May 22, 12

bookshelves: map-in-the-front, nonfiction
Read in May, 2012, read count: 1

Very short, to-the-point, interesting. Explains the impact that six major disease epidemics - of smallpox, cholera, yellow fever, influenza, bubonic plague, and tuberculosis - had on the world in terms of everything from politics to war to religion. It's very brief - just a couple of pages, illustrated with paintings, pictures of microbes, and maps of the epidemics, on each disease, but contains a lot that I didn't know before (especially about yellow fever). And, surprisingly for the subject matter, it's interesting without being viscerally disgusting (or, for that matter, making me cry). Mostly scientific and historical facts.

I especially like the bit at the end that lays out our need - from a practical, rather than the obvious philanthropic, point of view - to provide good health care to everyone. Because the poor can often afford just enough medicine to kill the weak microbes in their systems, which leaves only the strong ones, and then we wind up with superbugs. As the book says, even unlimited wealth can't defeat a microbe that's resistant to everything.
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