From the Black Death to Covid-19, pandemics have shaped and reshaped human society.
Science and history can give us insight into two urgent questions: Why do they persist? And how can we survive them?
Pandemics have been with us since Homo sapiens appeared on earth nearly 300,000 years ago. Forty percent of our genes are made of DNA from viruses. Yet we still remain vulnerable. Today, we are engulfed by a new pandemic: SARS-CoV-2 or the coronavirus that originated in China and, within four months, had spread to every country in the world.
Thanks to advances in molecular biology and new tools with which to probe them, we are also in the midst of a golden age of understanding when it comes to our tiniest enemies. DNA technology is rewriting history, resolving disputes that have persisted for decades—and giving us crucial insights that may safeguard our future.
Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Froude has worked on four continents over nearly 50 years, treating sufferers of plagues that arose over a century ago and never left us (like malaria and cholera) and battling new threats (like AIDS and Covid-19) as they emerge. In Plagued, he offers a gripping and timely account of the pandemics that have driven our evolution and shaped our history.
Plagued tells the stories of yellow fever, smallpox, syphilis, the bubonic plague, influenza, typhus, cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, and Covid-19. Blending science and narrative, Froude explores not only the unstoppable march of pestilence and its effects, but our intimate relationship with bacteria and viruses. He also explores the complex wonder that is human immunity, which itself is the consequence of an arms race between microbes and our animal ancestors that started 3.5 billion years ago. Along the way, we meet the dogged geniuses who have brought us back from the brink and see what it might take to do it again.
Plagues arise without warning. But as we watch the current cataclysm unfold in real time, we have a unique opportunity to forge a path ahead that avoids both denial and panic. This timely book illustrates how lessons from the past, both distant and recent, may be the key to understanding why pandemics continue to plague us, and what can be done to stop them.
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