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Academic & Professional Books  Organismal to Molecular Biology  Microbiology

Viruses, Plagues, & History Past, Present, and Future

By: Michael BA Oldstone(Author)
485 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations, tables
A timely update of this excellent historical account of past plagues and epidemics.
Viruses, Plagues, & History
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  • Viruses, Plagues, & History ISBN: 9780190056780 Edition: 2 Paperback Nov 2020 In stock
Price: £16.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

More people were killed by smallpox during the twentieth century – over 300 million – than by all of the wars of that period combined. In 1918 and 1919, influenza virus claimed over 50 million lives. A century later, influenza is poised to return, ongoing plagues of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis infect millions, and Ebola, Zika, and West Nile viruses cause new concern and panic.

The overlapping histories of humans and viruses are ancient. Earliest cities became both the cradle of civilization and breeding grounds for the first viral epidemics. This overlap is the focus of virologist/immunologist Michael Oldstone in Viruses, Plagues, and History. Oldstone explains principles of viruses and epidemics while recounting stories of viruses and their impact on human history. This fully updated second edition includes engrossing new chapters on hepatitis, Zika, and contemporary threats such as the possible return of a catastrophic influenza, and the impact of fear of autism on vaccination efforts. This is a fascinating panorama of humankind's longstanding conflict with unseen viral enemies, both human successes – such as control of poliomyelitis, measles, smallpox and yellow fever, and continued dangers – such as HIV and Ebola. Impeccably researched and accessibly written, Viruses, Plagues, and History will fascinate all with an interest in how viral illnesses alter the course of human history.


Part One: Viruses, Plagues, and History
Chapter 1. A General Introduction
Chapter 2. Introduction to the Principles of Virology
Chapter 3. Introduction to the Principles of Immunology

Part Two: Success Stories
Chapter 4. Smallpox
Chapter 5. Yellow Fever
Chapter 6. Measles Virus
Chapter 7. Poliomyelitis
Chapter 8. Hepatitis Viruses: Oysters, Blood Transfusions, and Cancer

Part Three: Present and Future Challenges
Chapter 9. An Overview of Newly Emerging Viral Plagues: The Hemorrhagic Fevers and A Newly Mysterious Suspect of Viral Disease, Acute Flaccid Paralysis
Chapter 10. Lassa Fever
Chapter 11. Ebola
Chapter 12. Hantavirus
Chapter 13. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS): The First Pandemic of the 21st Century, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and 2019-2020 Outbreak of 2019-nCoV
Chapter 14. West Nile Virus: Deaths of Crows and Humans
Chapter 15. Zika Comes to the Western Hemisphere and Americas: How, When, Consequences
Chapter 16. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): AIDS, the Current Plague
Chapter 17. Mad Cow Disease and Englishmen: Dementia of Humans - Prions: Folding Protein Transmissible Diseases
Chapter 18. Influenza Virus, the Plague That Will Continue to Return
Chapter 19. Apathy and Ignorance: False Prophets of Autism and the Anti-Vaccine Movement
Chapter 20. Conclusions and Future Predictions

Customer Reviews


Michael B. A. Oldstone is a member (Professor) at The Scripps Research Institute where he directed the Laboratory of Viral-Immunobiology. He received multiple international and national awards for the fruits of his contribution to virology and immunology and has been elected to several international and national academic societies including the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and the Scandinavian Society for Immunology. He has been a consultant to multiple institutions including the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health (USA).

By: Michael BA Oldstone(Author)
485 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations, tables
A timely update of this excellent historical account of past plagues and epidemics.
Media reviews

"From his account of how smallpox devastated native Indian populations, facilitating the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Peru, to his discussion of the effect of measles on Civil War troops, [Oldstone] makes a solid case [...] [His] book is sprinkled with good anecdotes."
The New York Times Book Review

"Concise, telling accounts of the most dreaded viral epidemic diseases and of the virologists who pioneered their identification, pathogenesis, and prevention [...] Accessible reading for the non-specialist."

"All educated people need to have some understanding of what viruses are and how we deal with them. [This book] provides us with a very timely and accessible account of the way that these minute parasites have influenced civilization."
– Peter Doherty, 1996 Nobel Laureate in Medicine

"Scholarly documentation, sprinkled with fascinating vignettes, of the enormous progress made against viral diseases which have taken more lives than all the wars [...] A must read for non-scientists and policy makers."
– Abner Louis Notkins, National Institutes of Health

"The book brings together not just a description of these diseases and how they have affected our history and behavior, but also narrates the search for the causative agents, explaining how they are transmitted, how research lead to development of vaccines [...] Overall this is an excellent book which I heartily recommend to a wide readership."
– Geoffrey L. Smith, University of Oxford

"In Viruses, Plagues, & History, Michael B.A. Oldstone brilliantly combines a scientific and human insight to bring to vivid life humanity's struggles with these deadly forces [...] those that have been conquered such as smallpox and yellow fever, and today's scourges such as Ebola and AIDS."
Cambridge Research Reading Room

"This highly readable account describes a number of the most interesting and significant episodes in the history of virology and viral diseases."
– Neal Nathanson, University of Pennsylvania

"Oldstone's love of history and scholarship as well as his wisdom and hands-on knowledge of science makes this book engrossing. Everyone from the interested laymen to the infectious disease expert will enjoy his timely accounting of man's battles with viruses that can kill. This is today's version of DeKruif's Microbe Hunters."
– Thomas C. Merigan, Stanford University

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