‘Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present’ by Frank M. Snowden

(.pdf, .epub)

This sweeping exploration of the impact of epidemic diseases looks at how mass infectious outbreaks have shaped society, from the Black Death to today. In a clear and accessible style, Frank M. Snowden reveals the ways that diseases have not only influenced medical science and public health, but also transformed the arts, religion, intellectual history, and warfare.

A multidisciplinary and comparative investigation of the medical and social history of the major epidemics, this volume touches on themes such as the evolution of medical therapy, plague literature, poverty, the environment, and mass hysteria. In addition to providing historical perspective on diseases such as smallpox, cholera, and tuberculosis, Snowden examines the fallout from recent epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and Ebola and the question of the world’s preparedness for the next generation of diseases.

Frank M. Snowden is Andrew Downey Orrick Professor Emeritus of History and History of Medicine at Yale University. His previous books include The Conquest of Malaria: Italy, 1900–1962 and Naples in the Time of Cholera, 1884–1911.


  1. Introduction
  2. Humoral Medicine: The Legacy of Hippocrates and Galen
  3. Overview of the Three Plague Pandemics: 541 to ca. 1950
  4. Plague as a Disease
  5. Responses to Plague
  6. Smallpox before Edward Jenner
  7. The Historical Impact of Smallpox
  8. War and Disease: Napoleon, Yellow Fever, and the Haitian Revolution
  9. War and Disease: Napoleon, Dysentery, and Typhus in Russia, 1812
  10. The Paris School of Medicine
  11. The Sanitary Movement
  12. The Germ Theory of Disease
  13. Cholera
  14. Tuberculosis in the Romantic Era of Consumption
  15. Tuberculosis in the Unromantic Era of Contagion
  16. The Third Plague Pandemic: Hong Kong and Bombay
  17. Malaria and Sardinia: Uses and Abuses of History
  18. Polio and the Problem of Eradication
  19. HIV/AIDS: An Introduction and the Case of South Africa
  20. HIV/AIDS: The Experience of the United States
  21. Emerging and Reemerging Diseases
  22. Dress Rehearsals for the Twenty-First Century: SARS and Ebola

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