A pox upon thee…

June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Plagues in World History  by John Aberth is an intense work of nonfiction that provides a concise world history about infectious diseases: plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, cholera, influenza, and AIDS.

Aberth focuses on those infectious diseases that have been found across the globe and spread widely. The time periods cover the 6th century to modern day. Did you know the plague still exists in the U.S.? He also looks at how different societies responded to the diseases and the impact these diseases had on the culture.

Until I read this, I always thought plague was the worst thing ever…but now I have to say smallpox is a really awful way to die as well. A person’s skin could slough off and leave nothing but raw meat exposed. People who died from smallpox typically didn’t die because of smallpox but because of an opportunistic disease, much like AIDS.

I highly recommend this book to those interested in medical history, history, and the curious who like well-written and interesting nonfiction. There are images, but they’re woodcuts and illustrations not Google images of up-close results that’ll leave your stomach churning.

The Library has several other of Aberth’s books.

You might also be interested in one of the following films through Films on Demand:

Cataclysm: The Black Death Visits Tuscany

The Plague is carried from China to Europe. Florentine banks collapse in mid-thirteenth century. The plague reaches Tuscany in 1348.

Infection: A History

Filmed at locations worldwide, the video traces the battles fought against humanity’s oldest foes: diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, syphilis, cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, polio, and perhaps the deadliest pandemic of all, AIDS.

There are also websites and pages devoted to information about infectious diseases such as Infectious Disease Society of America & World Health Organization.



This image is of Eli Mechnikov, who received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1908 for research on cellular immunity. Read his biography on Nobelprize.org




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