The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris

The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris

A medical historian narrates the last century of scientific struggle against an enduring enemy: deadly contagious disease.

In The Pandemic Century, a lively account of scares both infamous and less known, Mark Honigsbaum combines reportage with the history of science and medical sociology to artfully reconstruct epidemiological mysteries and the ecology of infectious diseases. We meet dedicated disease detectives, obstructive or incompetent public health officials, and brilliant scientists often blinded by their own knowledge of bacteria and viruses. We also see how fear of disease often exacerbates racial, religious, and ethnic tensions―even though, as the epidemiologists Malik Peiris and Yi Guan write, “‘nature’ remains the greatest bioterrorist threat of all.”


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