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A Short History of Disease

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  86 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A concise and accessible history of infectious and non-infectious diseases, complete with the most up-to-date research on 2014’s Ebola outbreak

Using an interdisciplinary approach, this survey chronicles the historical and geographical evolution of infectious and non-infectious diseases, from their prehistoric origins to the present day, offering a comprehensive, accessible
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Oldcastle Books (first published June 26th 2015)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  86 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Miloș Dumbraci
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quite good, with a lot of information about the common evolution of diseases and human society/race. Plenty of useful, little known and often surprising details about the ”plagues” that tormented humanity and the never-ending war against them.
One star less than 5/5 because I felt that the historical part was not as well developed as the medical one (I expected more about the impact on the fall empires etc.).
This book is just ok. I found some of the history interesting because there were details about epidemics that you don't learn in history class. The section on the Bubonic plague during the Middle Ages is very enlightening. However, the book has some major flaws. 1) The entire chapter titled "Antiquity" is pure speculation. Trying to make sense of anything before written history or even early written history is ridiculous. Early written history is subject to the interpretations of the individuals ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since finishing grad school, I've been interested in books about health and disease. That, and my career, made me interested in reviewing this book through NetGalley. I am unfamiliar with the author, who appears to have written some other histories. However, this one has a very broad scope--from paleolithic to modern times. The focus is on infectious diseases, as those have been a leading cause of death for most of humanity's existence. This breadth means that things are necessarily simplif ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful primer on disease whether or not you have any medical background. Well written, everything is clearly and simply explained. The book does a great job of taking you through the history of disease and man's experience with it.

I received this book for free as part of an early reads program but the opinions expressed are solely my own.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great introduction and interesting revelations on diseases (origins, names, mutations), but some biases.
After reading David Quammen's Spillover, I read this in an attempt to broaden my understanding of diseases in general, which it did and more! It was immensely readable, and covers the side of disease I am most interested in, namely the social history of disease and disease management. With lots of first-person quotes scattered throughout and legitimate compassion for those who have passed away in epidemics, the author brings to life the impact of diseases on ordinary people, even as far back as ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
How fascinating! The history of disease came alive before my eyes. It was well and good when it was from a distance or had been cured but the closer it got with 20th and 21st century epidemics and outbreaks the more I was itching everywhere. I didn't mind the rant on capitalism and white man's burden because I do believe they have contributed immensely to the problem. What could have been better was the glossary because it added little (if any) to the information we had already received in the c ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great overview/taster for disease generally (there's some science, some humanities, a good mix). I loved it and will be lending it out to everyone because it's an quick, entertaining read whilst being informative.

I gave it five stars because to me it fulfils its purpose very well and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some diseases have been helped through human intervention of a different kind. Fearing that certain vaccines might lead to conditions like autism, many parents have refused to get their children vaccinated... if we're going to count capitalism as a disease for a sake of argument, then we should probably also label stupidity as one.

A Short History of Disease ditulis begitu sistematis dengan urutan waktu dari awal kehidupan sampai abad milenial. Buku ini merangkum secara singkat dan tepat segala
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Decent enough synopsis of the history of mostly infectious diseases (albeit it didn’t add a whole lot to what I already knew about the history of various epidemics), but this book suffers from a series of flaws:
1. I didn’t need nor care for the simplistic ideological musings of the author mixed in with what’s supposed to be a factual account. The parts about capitalism being a disease (even though the criticism of colonialism is legitimate, the complete disregard of the role capitalism played in
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
While this book stays a bit on the surface where it concerns the medical science, it does cover a LOT of ground. You're curious about diseases in Antiquity? This book has got you covered! (Admittedly, there's a lot of supposition going on in that chapter but this is not hidden, either). More interested in the Black Plague? Yup!
Ready to get the willies while reading about modern menaces like ebola and SARS? Just keep going!
All the information is well-presented and never did I have the feeling the
Tom B
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Informative and concise, with some very vivid descriptions of some horrible diseases.
Good example of what non-fiction should be.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
A Short History of Disease by Sean Martin is a very highly recommended concise, easy to read history that presents a good overview of infectious and non-infectious diseases.

The book begins with definitions and origins and then is divided up by time periods, from prehistory to modern times. "Analyzing case studies including the Black Death, Spanish Flu, cholera, leprosy, syphilis, cancer, and Ebola, this book systematically maps the development of trends and the latest research on disease into a
Margaret Sankey
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although there is no startling new information here, this is a really useful World History companion (although a depressing one) describing the linked relationship of bacteria, viruses and humans from their earliest forms as the yaws scars on hominid skeletons(sometimes useful, often mutually hostile), and the dramatic rise of disease as neolithic people lived close to domesticated animals, changed their environment, created extra-microbe-rich soils and lived next to their own waste for extended ...more
Chad Frank
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I didn’t want to hear about his hatred of the free market. But, he did very well with a summary of history’s diseases.
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Author of bestsellers The Knights Templar: The History & Myths of the Legendary Military Order, The Gnostics: The First Christian Heretics and The Cathars: The Rise & Fall of the Great Heresy. My new book, A Short History of Disease, will be published in June 2015.