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Epidemics Laid Low

A History of What Happened in Rich Countries

Patrice Bourdelais
Translated by Bart K. Holland

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Justinian's Plague, the Black Death, the Great Plague, cholera, influenza, tuberculosis, and AIDS—these diseases and others have devastated human lives and society for generations, decimating populations, creating panic, and wrecking social and economic infrastructure. In Epidemics Laid Low epidemiologist and historian Patrice Bourdelais analyzes the history of disease epidemics in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present.

This captivating account describes how populations respond to crises of disease and how authorities deal with the devastation afterward. Bourdelais discusses the successes...

Justinian's Plague, the Black Death, the Great Plague, cholera, influenza, tuberculosis, and AIDS—these diseases and others have devastated human lives and society for generations, decimating populations, creating panic, and wrecking social and economic infrastructure. In Epidemics Laid Low epidemiologist and historian Patrice Bourdelais analyzes the history of disease epidemics in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present.

This captivating account describes how populations respond to crises of disease and how authorities deal with the devastation afterward. Bourdelais discusses the successes of northern European countries in fighting and controlling infectious diseases and emphasizes, by comparison, the failures of the countries in the south. He links success to several factors: ideology of progress, economic development, popular demands to improve public health, and investment in medical research. Bourdelais studies the social consequences of these policies, the changes in the representation of epidemics, the behaviors of populations, and heightened tensions between advocates of individual freedom and those of collective interest.

Epidemics continue to threaten us today. What do our responses to these threats say about our priorities? Will the security of public health remain a privilege of a few powerful countries or will poorer countries benefit from the efforts of the rich to prevent the spread of disease inside their own borders?

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Reviews

Bourdelais covers heavily traversed grounds in public health history, though providing his own insights along the way.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
192
ISBN
9780801882951
Illustration Description
8 halftones, 2 line drawings
Table of Contents

Introduction to the English-Language Edition
Introduction
1. The Plague Era
From the Plague of the Philistines to Justinian's Plague
The Black Death
The Price of Growth
Decisions to Protect Health
Bad Air—or

Introduction to the English-Language Edition
Introduction
1. The Plague Era
From the Plague of the Philistines to Justinian's Plague
The Black Death
The Price of Growth
Decisions to Protect Health
Bad Air—or Planetary Misalignment?
Flagellants and Pogroms
The Danse Macabre and the Apocalypse
2. Modernity: New Concepts of the State and the Body
Economies of Scale
The Care of the Body
A Cure at Any Cost
The Decline of Mortality
From Helvétius to Vicq d'Azyr
Fresh Air and Clean Water
Vaccination and the Elites
Vaccination's Astonishing Success
A Short-lived Success?
3. Cholera: The Return of Epidemic Disease and the Abandonment of Traditional Protective Measures
Contagion or Infection?
The Cholera Epidemic as a Natural Experiment
Health through Isolation
Disease as Population Control
The Mobilization of Political and Technical Resources
Turning Away from Traditional Protective Measures
4. The "English System": New Methods Gain Acceptance
The English Initiative
Cleanliness or Poverty?
The New Quarantine
The New Sanitary Frontier
Social Stigmatization and Health
The War on Syphilis
Blaming the Victims: New Mothers
5. The Sanitary Reform Movement: From Miasma Theory to Departments of Health
Sanitary Reformers
Maternity Wars: Should They Be Closed Down?
The Effects of Better Nurtition
City Health Departments, 1879–1900
The Importance of Municipal Policies
6. Vaccination: A Powerful Paradigm
Smallpox Vaccination: The Difficult Road to Acceptance
Bacteriology and New Vaccines
Pasteur's Laboratory Investigations
Tuberculosis: Feared, Resistant, and Romantic
The Twentieth Century: New Vaccines despite Theoretical Uncertainties
Objections to Vaccination
Organized Political Opposition
7. The Era of Spectacular Victories
Bacteriology's Successes: Sulfamides and Antibiotics
Victory over Tuberculosis
Industrialization and the Expansion of Demand
Government Programs
8. The End of a Dream?
Resistance and Emerging and Re-emerging Infections
The Thunderbolt: AIDS
What about the Rest of the World?
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Patrice Bourdelais

Patrice Bourdelais is a professor in the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He is head of the interdisciplinary program Medicine, Health, and Social Sciences and editor of the Annales de démographie historique