Black Death, Coronaviruses and other killer diseases throughout history
On the day that the government in the United Kingdom made mask wearing compulsory in shops and public transport because of the threat of a new variant of Coronavirus, this book about pandemics is released. Brilliant timing. In these horrible times of Covid-19 there are often reminders that this pandemic isn't the worst pandemic man has faced. The Spanish 'flu of 1918-1920 killed around 100 million people, for example, and many other civilisations were wiped out completely by disease.
The non-fiction book opens with a glossary to the medical terms and classification of diseases, which of course is very useful. The plagues and pandemics in the chapters follow a chronological pattern starting with those we know about from ancient times to the Covid-19 pandemic and other potential devastating diseases that exist. The text is laid out in a clear structure.
Douglas Boyd is an historian, not a medical expert, and this makes his book easy to follow for the layman, with all medical terms explained either at the time or in the glossary. All the famous pandemics and diseases are there: the Black Death, the Great Plague, cholera, HIV, typhoid and influenzas. The understanding of how disease worked is discussed, with the ideas ranging from the wrath of God to the misalignment of stars and well as the modern day discoveries of how DNA and pathogens work.
The scariest part of this book is how we already know that there are microorganisms ready to start the next pandemic. Essential reading for those interested in the history of health or why pandemics exist.
Published by Pen and Sword History on 30 November 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.