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Disease and History 4th Edition: From Ancient Times to Covid-19

By Michael Biddiss and Frederick F. Cartwright

A newly updated edition of a classic in the history of medicine with information on Covid-19.

Arising from collaboration between a doctor and a historian, Disease and History offers the general reader a wide-ranging and accessible account of the ways in which disease has left its dramatic mark on the past.

It discusses the impact made by bubonic plague and other infections upon the ancient and medieval worlds; the likely role of syphilis in the careers of Henry VIII and Ivan the Terrible; the significance of smallpox for the conquest of Mexico; and the contribution of typhus to Napoleon’s downfall and of haemophilia to the collapse of Tsarist rule in Russia. Other topics surveyed include the influence of tropical diseases in the history of the colonization of Africa, and the global death-toll taken by the so-called ‘Spanish’ influenza of 1918-9.

Michael Biddiss and Frederick F. Cartwright show how successive eras have made progress against pestilence, even while confronting new and often unforeseen threats. The final section of the book highlights many of the current problems now facing a world where disease – especially when combined with war, famine, and ecological recklessness – presents an ongoing challenge to human survival, as is the case currently with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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