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Donald R. Hopkins provides a fascinating account of smallpox and its role in human history. Starting with its origins 10,000 years ago in Africa or Asia, Hopkins follows the disease on its rampage through both the ancient and modern worlds, including its spread to Europe and the Americas. He describes how smallpox often wiped out whole villages and decimated the populations of entire regions, and how the disease disrupted agriculture and trade. Smallpox changed the course of history as it removed or temporarily incapacitated heads of state, halted or exacerbated wars, and devastated populations that had never been exposed to the disease. In Hopkins's history, smallpox was one of the most dangerous and influential characters that shaped the course of world events.