Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6 x 9
978-0-7425-5705-5 • Hardback • January 2011 • $69.00 • (£53.00)
978-0-7425-5706-2 • Paperback • December 2015 • $39.00 • (£30.00)
978-1-4422-0796-7 • eBook • January 2011 • $37.00 • (£28.00)
John Aberth holds a PhD in medieval history from the University of Cambridge and is the author of numerous books on disease and the Middle Ages.
Chapter 1: Plague
Chapter 2: Smallpox
Chapter 3: Tuberculosis
Chapter 4: Cholera
Chapter 5: Influenza
Chapter 6: AIDS
Medieval historian Aberth presents interactions of humans and epidemics in case studies of six infectious diseases: plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, cholera, influenza, and AIDS. He chose these because they have known pathogens, can be fatal, and have had long histories. Not merely narrative or descriptive, his study is an attempt to demonstrate how human reactions and attitudes to these diseases have in turn shaped how they affect human communities. Going beyond an exercise in the social construction of disease, Aberth's historical focus on the interaction of disease and human response leads him to be optimistic about human abilities to adjust to and even neutralize biomedical effects. The longest chapter, on the plague, reflects the author's professional specialty. The second longest chapter is on AIDS; remaining chapters are 9-24 pages. Aberth's detailed attention to Islamic understandings of and reactions to plague is especially welcome. He opens each chapter by describing the disease and its effects, then for each disease develops unique reactions and attitudes as well as points introduced earlier, weaving an overall pattern of human progress and intransigence, of connections made and opportunities missed. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
— Choice Reviews
The prospect of a slender volume about plagues in world history would certainly be attractive to all those who teach either disease history or world history. Moreover . . . it is an approach that most students would embrace.
— Journal of Interdisciplinary History
John Aberth offers a social interpretation of disease throughout history using a comparative global framework. He has a lively writing style, and each chapter is framed by lucid summary descriptions of disease symptoms, progression, transmission, treatments, and the respective debates. Plagues in World History should be a profitable and successful textbook for undergraduate students and general readers.
— Journal of World History
John Aberth's admirable work on this topic, Plagues in World History, deserves to be engaged with by anyone who is interested in pandemics throughout time. . . .The reader will be most impressed by the wealth of information about the various pandemics and the efforts by medical researchers to combat them up to today . . . [The author] persues his topic from a remarkably balanced position. . . .Both historians and medical researchers will find this book a fascinating read, an excellent digestion of what we know today about plagues in world history.
— The Sixteenth Century Journal
The author presents an effective case for the diseases he has chosen and provides the reader with current findings that allow for interpretations of disease origins.
— The Historian
John Aberth has written a concise book that is both well-informed and clear about contemporary medical understandings of epidemics, and steadily conscious of their broader historical, political, social, and economic contexts. In an age when such epidemics as malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS affect millions, Aberth's arguments have continuing importance.
— J. N. Hays, Loyola University, Chicago
Seeking understanding of our societies and selves by reading and writing books that omit all mention of the essential fact of wars would strike us as a glaring oversight. Yet our shelves are crammed with books that never mention epidemics, an equally vital force in human history. Plagues in World History is the authoritative and fascinating antidote to that error.
— Alfred W. Crosby, University of Texas at Austin
Provides a global survey of disease spanning five continents—Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America
Covers a broad timespan extending from the sixth century CE to the present day
Details the history of some of the most deadly diseases ever known to humankind, including plague (the Black Death), smallpox, tuberculosis, cholera, influenza, and AIDS
Offers a comparative approach that explains not only the cultural impact of each disease in its time and place but also responses across space and time