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Articles document major, outstanding, and unusual epidemics throughout the world from the dawn of history to the present, describing how the epidemics started and spread, who was affected, and the eventual outcome.
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George Childs Kohn has written and edited numerous reference works, including Dictionary of Wars, The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal, and Dictionary of Historic Documents for Facts On File/Checkmark Books. He lives in Madison, CT.From Booklist:
Disease has decimated populations, defeated armies, and caused great suffering all over the world. The Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence offers an introduction to the role of disease in world history, with information on major epidemics and their effects on civilization.
The book is arranged alphabetically by the location of the epidemic, e.g., Afghan Influenza Epidemic of 1918, Zanzibar Cholera Epidemic of 1916. Multiple entries are listed chronologically: Asiatic Cholera Pandemic of 1846^-63, Asiatic Cholera Pandemic of 1865^-75. There are some inconsistencies in titles, such as Plague of Athens, Great and Plague of Florence (Black Vomit). With the exception of Black Death, there are no general entries for diseases. General and geographic indexes facilitate access, and see also references direct readers to related articles.
Entries range in length from one paragraph to two pages. They present basic facts about location, date, how and why the epidemic started and spread, the people affected, and its outcome or significance. Clinical and epidemiological information is minimal. The cause, mode of transmission, and symptoms are mentioned in some entries, but not repeated in every article about the same disease. The focus of the book is historical. More than 700 epidemics, ranging from various outbreaks of cholera, smallpox, and typhus to English Sweating Disease and the French Army Syphilis Epidemic of 1494, are covered. A time line of epidemics supplements the text. Most entries have references for further reading, and there is an extensive bibliography of both classic and contemporary literature.
Although this book lacks the depth of The Cambridge World History of Human Disease (1993), it provides a fine introduction to a fascinating subject. The Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence is a good source for high-school and public libraries.
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