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review 2018-09-28 05:20
Some Rambling Thoughts: Get Well Soon
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

by Jennifer Wright

 

 

 

A humorous book about history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and the heroes who fought them

In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop.  She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her.  Then more.  In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague.  In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary and led to historic medical breakthroughs.

Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the plagues they've suffered from.  Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues in human history, as well as stories of the heroic figures who fought to ease their suffering.  With her signature mix of in-depth research and upbeat storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks.



One of my fellow reader/reviewers over at Booklikes had stated that this book read like a compilation of blog entries, written by "an overconfident twenty-something with an only superficial grasp of history and medicine and science."  I seconded that statement, because the writing style in this book is extremely informal, with a lot of opinionated side-quips, and tons of speculation masquerading as scientific fact or historical data.  I'm not saying that this book doesn't have anything to offer, but to be honest, it doesn't offer what it seems to have been marketed to offer: a look at history's worst plagues and the heroes who fought them.  Instead, I feel like the title should have been changed to something along the lines of "Some Sensational Stories About Plagues, Medical Horrors, and History that Interested This Author."

The book is very Anglo-centric, focusing mostly on how these plagues affected America or the European nations.  But a cursory search of, say, leprosy, shows that this is a disease that impacted, and still impacts, hundreds of countries never mentioned in this book.  Wright's focus, however, was the leper colony of Moloka'i and the story of Father Damien.  While I didn't mind reading about the wonder who was Father Damien, this chapter on Leprosy left a lot to be desired.

Much like a lot of her other chapters, Wright doesn't dwell very long on the science of each plague, and instead spends a good amount of time on tangents and speculative asides.  In fact, she doesn't spend a whole lot of them with the plagues themselves, because a lot of her side tangents, some of which have nothing to do with the plague (re: Comoddus's incestuous lusts circa 'The Antonine Plague') take up more pages than were necessary.

After the first couple chapters in this book, I realized that I'd have to change my mindset before continuing on.  The writing style wasn't what I'd been expecting, and even up to the end, still wasn't a writing style that worked for me.  There were too many of those opinionated side-quips, too many random and ill-used pop culture references, and a lot of times, Jennifer Wright will insert her own imagining of how she would recreate certain parts of history if left to her devices.

 

I'm always trying to rewrite the scripts for history, the way some people must mentally rewrite the scripts for disappointing episodes of their favorite television shows.


First of all, yes I can relate to mentally rewriting scripts for disappointing episodes of a favorite television show; and at least Wright is aware of her own habits.  Of course, I also don't try to sell my rewritten scripts as fact in a popular science book, currently worth $12.99 via Kindle.

As I think I might have mentioned in another update, this book tries too hard to be informal and personal by adding random pop culture references, and short humorous (?) commentary, possibly in an attempt to lighten the mood of the context.  After all, this is a book about devastation and tragedy, with millions of deaths and a lot of suffering communities and nations over history.  I'm never opposed to dark humor, but you have to do it right.  At some points, Wright DID manage to make my lips quirk, but other times, I just didn't quite understand her humor.  The timing always felt off, or the insertions felt awkward.  Whatever it was, it didn't work for me.  And a lot of times, I didn't understand the connection--I grew up in America, but I've never been big on the pop culture trivia.

She also inserted exclamations almost everywhere!  Even when said exclamation probably wasn't warranted!  A lot of her opinions were exclamations!  A lot of her speculations and asides were exclamations!

But they failed to really do the job of being exciting or surprising in their exclamation point usage.

If it is one thing I will say in favor of this book, it's that Jennifer Wright truly DOES seem passionate about the subject and each plague's impact on human life and society.  Her stance on vaccinations, hygiene, sanitation, general health... all good points to emphasize.  Her stance on behaviors towards humankind and the diseases that afflict us is sincere--the message not to treat people badly just because of the disease is a good one.  Being kind, supportive, and understanding is a message I think needs to be put out there more often.  We don't become afflicted with something deadly as a punishment from some higher judgment--diseases don't pick and choose who they affect, and pathogens aren't discriminatory.

As a popular science book, she could have focused more on the science and medicine of these plagues she is show-casing.  But show-casing is really what she is doing in this book, choosing specific stories that seem to interest her about each plague rather than giving more details about the specific plague itself.  Truly, the only chapter I felt had the most sincere presentation was the 'Smallpox' chapter, but unfortunately, she didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.

But the rest seemed to hinge greatly on some sensational aspect of each disease: Syphilis and the rotting noses, Tuberculosis and how people glamorized it, for examples.

Then there were the chapters on 'Dancing Plague' and 'Lobotomies,' which, in honest truth, I don't see as counting as true plagues.  Lobotomies as a medical horror I can see, but this is a book about plagues, so if she truly wanted to write a book about medical horrors that included a chapter on lobotomies, she should serious reconsider the title to her book.

I can see this book interesting a lot of people, if only because it DOES present a lot of tidbit information that many might find intriguing.  In some instances, you DO find yourself wanting to learn more, from a much more detailed, well-informed source.  In some chapters, she DOES manage to tell me things I didn't already know, although I would confirm her facts from my own research if inclined to do so.  For the most part, this book is, at best, an overview, which I feel would have been better off in a blog format, where expectations might be a bit lower than as a book you had to pay for.

 

 



 

Flat Book Society - September 2018 Read

 ~*~*~*~

 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(anything related to the end of the world, doomsday cults, or a post-apocalypse world)

 

**This book was approved by our Halloween Bingo hosts for the Doomsday square, and by default, the Creepy Raven Free Space.**

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/09/some-rambling-thoughts-get-well-soon.html
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review 2018-09-24 08:34
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

I finally finished this one.  The delay was a combination of being on holiday, and needing to put some space between my experience of this book and the experience of others, as I was starting to feel like I was losing my objectivity regarding my feelings about this book.

 

So, my feelings: Get Well Soon was poorly sub-titled and marketed.  As a popular science book, or a popular history-about-science book, it fails.  As an introductory anthropological and cultural survey of how society has historically reacted to epidemics and pandemics, I think its excellent.

 

Furthermore, while I like her writing style a lot, it is polarising.  Jennifer Wright is a 30-something author whose voice is informal, irreverent and snarky.  She writes the way friends - good friends - talk when they don't have to behave themselves.  She uses this no-nonsense voice to sometimes share her thoughts about topics that are themselves, polarising.  

 

So this is a book that isn't going to appeal to everyone.  It particularly isn't going to appeal - at all - to anyone looking for a more sober, scientifically-focused exploration of the topic.  After reading the whole thing, I'm pretty sure it was never meant to, at least, not from the author's perspective.

 

"If you take nothing else away from this book, I hope it's that sick people are not villains."

 

This is a recurring theme from start to finish.  Wright's objective seems to be to focus a spotlight on humanity's reaction to mass illness throughout history, whether good or bad.  Her hope in doing so is that perhaps those who read this book will learn from history rather than doom themselves to repeat it.  She does this is the frankest, bluntest possible way, with a lot of snarky humor.

 

In this objective, I believe she succeeds.  I think those of us who could be labeled as 'prolific readers' or those who voraciously devour their favorite subjects, might lose perspective on how well-informed, or not,  most people today are.  Society today is at least as divided as it's been at almost any other time in history, and a good deal of opinion is shaped via the internet, a source we all know can be about as accurate as a round of the telephone game.

 

In this context, I think the book is fantastic.  Jennifer Wright seems to be a popular author of columns in various newspapers and magazines; if even a handful of her fans from Harper's Bazaar, et al, read this book simply because she wrote it, and they come away having learned something they didn't know before they started, or thinking harder about their responsibility in society, then Wright will have succeeded where others have failed.  (And yes, I'm generally pessimistic about the world I live in - my country is being run by an orange lunatic; I think I'm entitled to a bit of pessimism.)

 

I'm not one of her magazine/newspaper fans.  In fact it wasn't until after I'd started this that I realised I'd ever read anything by her before.  I'm also quantitatively better read, if not qualitatively (some would argue), and I can say that not only did I enjoy this book a great deal, but I learned more than I expected to.  For example, I had no idea that the Spanish Flu wasn't actually Spanish, but probably American, and I had no idea that it killed so many Americans.  Granted, most of my knowledge of the Spanish Flu comes from British fiction, but it's a testament to the horrifying effectiveness of government censorship during WWI that you still don't read about it in American fiction, and this is a disease that killed in one month more Americans than the US Civil War.  I'd also never heard of Encephalitis Lethargica, and sort of wish I never had.  Even on the diseases I knew more about, Wright managed to impart something new for me, and in at least 2 chapters, left me misty eyed over the power people have when they choose to be selfless.

 

As a popular science book meant to tackle a complicated topic in a palatable way, this book is a fail; there's not nearly enough scientific discussion or data here to qualify this as such a book.  But as a popular, cultural overview of the way societies throughout history have succeeded or failed to handle epidemics when they happened and the importance of rational, humane leaders and populace in times of crises, I think Wright succeeds very well.

 

The tragedy of this book is that it's marketed to the very people who are bound to be disappointed by it and likely don't need its message, and the people who might gain the most from it are likely to pass it by because they think it'll be too boring and dry.

 

I read this for The Flat Book Society's September read, but it also qualifies for the Doomsday square in Halloween Bingo.

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review 2018-09-15 04:33
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

Since I came so late to the party with this one, I knew enough from other people's updates that I needed to adjust my expectations somewhat. This wasn't a survey of plagues over the centuries with discussions of symptoms, causes, and societal effects of various contagious diseases. It was a chattier discussion that liked to use a lot of exclamation marks and throw in cultural references and attempts at humour.

 

Some of the chapters were more interesting than others, but I slowly became more and more appalled by the blithely American-centric attitude that went so far as to refer to some countries as "core" countries and some as "periphery". Now, she never actually defines what constitutes a "core" country versus a peripheral one, so I'm not exactly sure what she means here (it's not like she's even talking about a particular industry where core might mean countries strongly involved in that industry)...it's really just not a term I've ever encountered before and it makes me wonder what kind of circles the author moves in where she wouldn't think that she needed to define it because it was so commonly used.

 

It also makes me wonder whether part of the reason she disliked John Snow so much wasn't because he was a tee-totalling vegetarian but because he was British? I realize she was probably aiming for a humorous angle when commenting on the various people involved in her plagues but a lot of her comments just came off as silly. As she approached the modern day "plagues", the book became more and more American, too.

 

I will say that Wright at least comes down against the anti-vaxxers, but viewed against the rest of the book, I just don't feel that that merits raising my rating even by half a star. I didn't mention it in an update, but I'm also skeptical of her coverage of the Antonine plague because she runs two plagues together and then claims that they continue to deplete the Roman empire to the point of failure over another hundred years.

 

I recommend Medical Detective aka The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sarah Hempel if you want to read a slightly less hostile account of John Snow's detective work. Elentarri's review has a more extensive list of alternate books to read.

 

To end on a more cheery note, here's a doctored up Huggins (I hope Broken Tune doesn't mind the appropriation):

 

 

 

Previous updates (with [hopefully] helpful summaries:

Page 2 (first core country rant, longevity rant, and modern viewpoint rant aka the introduction)

Page 11 (cholera in Roman times rant and other Roman stuff)

Page 25 (picturing ostriches as really big geese)

Page 44 (the dangers of bathing in the middle ages)

Page 113 (the dangers of drinking raw milk, or, the problem with viewing the past through a modern lens)

Page 123 (reference to Jenny Lawson)

Page 125 (more on "periphery" countries)

Page 206 (judgement against those who do not race balloons)

 

Oh, and I'll be counting this towards the Doomsday square in Halloween Bingo.

 

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review 2018-09-11 22:46
Epidemics are horrible. Well, duh ...
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

In substance, I don't really have a whole lot to add to my one ill-humored status update on this book.  This is the book-form equivalent of a cross-breed between tabloid journalism and a series of superficial, but opinionated and self-centered blog posts: short on bonafide science, history, and research generally; long on sweeping, generalizing judgments, inappropriately flippant tone, ill-matched pop culture references, character assassination, vagueness and imprecision, the sensational aspects of the diseases treated, and the personal histories of some of the protagonists of the episodes chosen for presentation (clearly not all of them selected for their "heroic" attributes but for their "human interest" and sensationalist appeal).  Several of the chapters do not deal with genuine epidemics (never mind "plagues") at all: the "dancing plague" was arguably collective hysteria, encephalitis lethargica doesn't qualify on either overall numeric or "sudden mass occurrence" grounds, and if Wright's grounds for including lobotomies seriously were (as she writes) that you can't possibly leave a gruesome procedure such as this out of a book on "medical horrors," then that statement alone shows what she was truly after; never mind her book's extremely misleading subtitle.  Most of all, however, Get Well Soon is extremely long on MeMeMe: the book's true protagonist is not in any way, shape or form any of the brave, poor, heroic, stupid, bright, unfortunate and other souls remembered for their accidental, unwilling or deliberate involvement in one epidemic or another, but the author herself, who clearly considers herself God's gift to popular science writing. 

 

Well, no, Jennifer.  You're not.  And contrary to what you seem to be hoping, history won't remember you, either.  Not even because you've written a book.  Because this just isn't the sort of book that either scientific or general literary history will remember.  Not even because it's taking a scientific position that will be shown off as outrageous in the near or far removed future.  It's just a run-of-the-mill, subpar, badly-researched tract that would be (and, as the books you cite show, has in fact been) in better and more competent hands with just about any writer who, unlike you, actually understands what they're talking about.

 

To the above comments, I will add only one thing that began to bug me (no pun intended) progressively more after I'd posted my only status update:

 

Wright's view is extremely Anglo-centric: in a book that makes so much out of the benefits reaped by humanity at large from the medical and scientific advances of the late 19th and the 20th century, and a book that purports to deal with, inter alia, cholera and tuberculosis, you'd expect scientists such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch and their research to be given fairly big play, but Wright has either never heard of them at all or is completely unaware of their immense contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of the very diseases she writes about, including in the areas she trumpets over and over again: disinfection / sterilization, sanitation, and vaccination (which contributions to science and medicine justly earned both of them the scientific community's highest honors -- Pasteur was, inter alia, a member of the Académie Française and the Académie des Sciences, and gave his name to the Institut Pasteur and the procedure known as "pasteurization"; Koch was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine).  Even more than that, however, Wright's world is divided into "core countries" and "periphery countries" -- which seems to translate vaguely into "the North American and Western European parts of the industrialized world" and "all the rest."  If that isn't outright racism -- and not of the casual sort, either -- I don't know what racism is.

 

Wright is adamant enough about the importance of vaccination and disinfection / sterilization / sanitation for me to give her the benefit of the doubt that she really is passionate about these subjects -- and about the importance of science and scientific research generally.  On those grounds, and those alone, and in light of the undeniable importance of these topics (not only in connection with the current anti-vax idiocy), I'm willing to award her books two stars.  But that doesn't stop me from wondering who at Henry Holt (of all places) thought this book would be a good idea in the first place, and where they hid both their science editors and their general editors before they let it go to print.

 

Finally, two fun facts:

 

1)  "Lone genius" or not, I learned more about Edward Jenner and his research from my 5th and 6th grade English language textbook -- i.e., from a book whose primary purpose was not to teach science, but to teach English to nine- and ten-year-olds who were just starting to learn the language from scratch, and who were in the very first stages of building a very basic English vocabulary.

 

2)  I happen to know one of the authors Wright cites.  He is a friend of my mother's and, when in Germany, always makes sure to spend some time with my mom / with us.  On one of those occasions, we took a trip to Speyer, which is some 2 - 2 1/2 hours south of Bonn (near the Luxembourg and French borders), has a certain significance in the history of Germany, and was founded, like many cities in the southwest of Germany, by the Romans.  Not surprisingly, it therefore has a museum dedicated to its Roman history, which the three of us decided to visit.  Having peroused the museum's exhibits, we afterwards proceeded to discuss the decline and fall of the Roman empire and my mom asked her friend what he considered the key causes of Rome's eventual downfall.  Now, that was a very apt question not merely on general grounds in light of our just-concluded museum visit but more specifically because her scientist friend had published, a few years earlier, a book on the collapse of certain civilizations (including some highly advanced ones), and even before that, a book that deals with the way in which [resistance to] epidemics, warfare and technological advances combined have historically favored the descendants of the inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent over the indigenous inhabitants of other parts of the world (say, the Americas) (this, incidentally, is the book that Wright cites in Get Well Soon).  So you could say that he knows his stuff.  And you'd think that if a scientist who had researched, in depth, these specific aspects of scientific, medical, geographical and social history, were to consider the Antonine Plague even remotely among the things that brought to an end a millennium's worth of Roman history, he'd say so, right?  Well, guess what was the one thing he did not consider worth mentioning at all?  (Spoiler alert: yes -- the Antonine Plague.)

 

Nice try, Jennifer.  Better luck next time.  Or on second thought -- maybe better not.

 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-07 03:06
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

TITLE:  Get Well Soon:  History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

 

AUTHOR:  Jennifer Wright

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781627797467

_____________________________

DESCRIPTION:

"A humorous book about history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and the heroes who fought them.

In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary and led to historic medical breakthroughs.

Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the plagues they've suffered from. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues in human history, as well as stories of the heroic figures who fought to ease their suffering. With her signature mix of in-depth research and upbeat storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks.
"

________________________________________________________

 

*********************POSSIBLE SPOILERS**********************************

________________________________________________________

 

REVIEW:

 

This poorly written book is a collection of superficial, sensationalist, chatty chapters on a variety of epidemics (and two extras) that are supposed to be history’s worst plagues (some are, some aren’t) and the heroes (or more likely ignorant fools according to the author) who fought them.  There is no original content or any type of original insights in this book, but there are a vast quantity of quotes straight from other (better written) books.  This book is long on opinions and short on science, so if you are looking for science, try any of the recommended books below.  The topics covered include:  the Antonine Plague; Bubonic Plague; Dancing Plague; Smallpox; Syphilis; Tuberculosis; Cholera; Leprosy; Typhoid; Spanish Flu; Encephalitis Lethargica; Lobotomies; Polio; and as an afterthought, HIV/AIDS

 

Wright spends little time discussing the origins and emergence of most the epidemics covered in this book.  There is a very limited examination of what the disease actually does to a human body (other than the gory bits usually including pustules) or how widespread and devasting it was in terms of socio-economic factors (especially the later chapters).  Only a few chapters explain how that particular epidemic ended or even if it did end or what the status of that particular disease is currently.  Some of the chosen epidemics weren’t the “worst plagues” by any means or even an epidemic (depending on the definition), or even diseases for that matter (e.g. chapter on lobotomies and dancing plague).  The author does not provide a partial view of the topic, and can’t wait to assign villains or heroes to each disease, or to insult and mock anyone she feels like. 

 

Some of the information presented in this book is suspect, or at least outdated, especially in the chapters dealing with TB, cholera, polio, leprosy and Antonine plague.  Wikipedia is not a valid reference.  It is also apparent from the excessive insertions of the author’s own opinions that she didn’t bother to research the topics or the people involved too closely either.  The author also contradicts herself in the matter of informed consent – informed consent is necessary when she agrees with it, but unnecessary when she doesn’t agree with it.  In addition, if you are going to use a graphic (in a published book of all places!) to show the rate of medical progress over time, learn to draw a proper graph with defined, labelled axes (or get someone else to do it!), instead of a random floating line which means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

 

Wright has an especially aggravating writing style.  Altogether, the writing style was too juvenile and frivolous for the subject matter (squealing, ditzy Hollywood cheerleaders come to mind).  Each chapter comes across as a series of book reports covering a different epidemic per chapter – written by an immature teenager or a vapid blogger.  The specific chapters rely predominantly on one major source, usually a much better written book on the topic.  This book is an simplistic and biased glossing of historical epidemics (mostly) that the author has used as an opportunity to snicker, criticise, preach her opinions and sensationalise in terms of emphasizing the unpleasant side-effects of the disease (pustules, rotting noses, the more disgusting the better etc).  

 

The book is stuffed with flat jokes (the jokes weren't even vaguely funny), dated pop-culture reference, snide and snarky comments,  speculations, not to mention the author’s excessive and continuous interjections of her mean-spirited opinions, and political commentary, which were unwarranted, irrelevant, not to mention unprofessional.  Wright makes broad sweeping generalizations and seems to be uninterested in viewing these epidemics within their historical context.  The tone is dripping with sarcasm and contempt for the poor people that suffered from these terrible disease, and Heaven save you from the author’s vicious pen, if you were one of the unfortunate doctors who were trying to help with the limited knowledge and instrumentation of pre-21st century medical knowledge.

 

It is possible to write medical nonfiction in an interesting manner without sounding like a vapid teenager.  I learnt more about the author from all her snide opinions than any of the diseases from this book.  This book comes across as a poor imitation of a Mary Roach book, so if you like Mary Roach’s books, you might (possibly) like this one.  If you want a book that tells you something of the how, where and why of a variety of diseases; you need to look elsewhere.  I found Wright’s shallow, cruel and arrogantly opinionated writing style an insult to the reader and personally repellent.

 

 

POST SCRIPT:

 

For those people who think the Ancient Roman cities did not have sewer systems, please do some basic research:

 

SHORT VERSION

Roman sewers – ancient Roman toilets, poop, pipes

 

 MORE DETAILS

What toilets and sewers tell us about ancient Roman sanitation

Rome Is Still Technically Using One Of The First Sewer Systems In The World

Aqueducts and Wastewater Systems of Rome

 

 

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS

 

Compilation of Diseases:

~The Coming Plague:  Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett

~New Killer Diseases:  How the Alarming Evolution of Germs Threatens Us All by Elinor Levy

~The History of Disease in Ancient Times by Philip Norrie

~Viruses, Plagues, and History:  Past, Present and Future (Revised, Updated Edition) by Michael B.A. Oldstone

 

Plumbing and Personal Hygiene:

~Flushed:  How the Plumber Saved Civilization by W. Hodding Carter

~The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us about Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society by David Waltner-Toews

~The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg

 ~The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George

 

Diseases in General:

~Spillover:  Emerging Diseases, Animal Hosts, and the Future of Human Health by David Quammen

~Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark

~An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections by Ron Barrett & George Armelagos

 

Specific Diseases:

~The Great Mortality:  An Intimate Hsitory of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly

~Dancing Plague:  The Strange True Story of an Extraordinary Illness by John Waller

~Superbug:  The Fatal Menace of MRSA by Maryn McKenna

~Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik & Monica Murphy

 

Other:

~Strange Medicine:  A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages by Nathan Belofsky

~Betrayal of Trust by Laurie Garrett [This book gives a great insight into how disease progressed in different countries and the social conditions and public health failings (and victories) that shaped how we understand infectious disease].

 

 

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