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Death in a Small Package

A Short History of Anthrax

Susan D. Jones

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A disease of soil, animals, and people, anthrax has threatened lives for at least two thousand years. Farmers have long recognized its lasting virulence, but in our time, anthrax has been associated with terrorism and warfare. What accounts for this frightening transformation? Death in a Small Package recounts how this ubiquitous agricultural disease came to be one of the deadliest and most feared biological weapons in the world.

Bacillus anthracis is lethal. Animals killed by the disease are buried deep underground, where anthrax spores remain viable for decades or even centuries and, if…

A disease of soil, animals, and people, anthrax has threatened lives for at least two thousand years. Farmers have long recognized its lasting virulence, but in our time, anthrax has been associated with terrorism and warfare. What accounts for this frightening transformation? Death in a Small Package recounts how this ubiquitous agricultural disease came to be one of the deadliest and most feared biological weapons in the world.

Bacillus anthracis is lethal. Animals killed by the disease are buried deep underground, where anthrax spores remain viable for decades or even centuries and, if accidentally disturbed, can cause new infections. But anthrax can be deliberately aerosolized and used to kill—as it was in the United States in 2001.

Historian and veterinarian Susan D. Jones recounts the life story of anthrax through the biology of the bacillus; the political, economic, geographic, and scientific factors that affect anthrax prevalance; and the cultural beliefs about the disease that have shaped human responses to it. She explains how Bacillus anthracis became domesticated, discusses what researchers have learned from numerous outbreaks, and analyzes how the bacillus came to be weaponized and what this development means for the modern world.

Jones compellingly narrates the biography of this frightfully hardy disease from the ancient world through the present day.

Reviews

Reviews

An excellent resource for understanding the history of anthrax and its relationship to humans... Highly recommended.

Jones's study breaks new ground in linking the histories of four types of anthrax: agricultural, laboratory, industrial, and weaponized... A great virtue of Jones's book is the dialogue between biology and history... Death in a Small Package beautifully illustrates the old truism that history is a dialogue between the present and the past and should be an essential text of historiography courses, as well as those on infectious diseases, military research, and bioethics.

A rich history of anthrax, which weaves together themes ranging across laboratory science, preventive medicine, and the technological developments which brought together biological agents and pre-existing military expertise... [an] excellent book.

Jones' book provides plenty of thought-provoking material for general readers and for specialist teachers of science and technology courses alike.

Death in a Small Package is interesting, well written, and accessible, presenting a worthwhile addition to the history of modern medicine and bacteriological science.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
352
ISBN
9780801896965
Illustration Description
8 b&w photos, 3 line drawings
Table of Contents

Foreword, by Charles E. Rosenberg
Preface
Introduction
1. Infectivity and Fear: Charbon and the Cursed Fields
2. Availability: Understanding the Germ of Anthrax
3. Transmission: Anthrax Enters the Factory
4

Foreword, by Charles E. Rosenberg
Preface
Introduction
1. Infectivity and Fear: Charbon and the Cursed Fields
2. Availability: Understanding the Germ of Anthrax
3. Transmission: Anthrax Enters the Factory
4. Casualty Effectiveness: War andAnthrax
5. Resistance: Anthrax, the Modern Laboratory, and the Environment
6. Detection and Verification: The Weapon and the Disease
Epilogue: Stories about Anthrax
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Susan D. Jones, D.V.M.

Susan D. Jones is a veterinarian and an associate professor in the Program in the History of Science and Technology and the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She is the author of Valuing Animals: Veterinarians and Their Patients in Modern America, also published by Johns Hopkins.
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