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Read About Pandemics in History

Interested in learning more about vaccines and pandemics? Check out these books compiled for our recent program on COVID-19.

February 24, 2021

Interested in learning more about vaccines and pandemics? Check out these books that were compiled for our recent program with Dr. Banach, the Medical Director for the Infection Prevention and Control program at UConn Health

You can also watch a recording of our program, COVID-19 in 2021: The Hope of Vaccination.

In this list:

  • Vaccines
  • Influenza
  • Polio
  • Other pandemics and plagues

 

Vaccines

The Panic Virus

The Panic Virus
A True Story Of Medicine, Science, And Fear

Seth Mnookin

A searing account of how vaccine opponents have used the media to spread their message of panic, despite no scientific evidence to support them.

Vaccine

Vaccine
The Controversial Story Of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver

Arthur Allen

A definitive history of vaccination ranges from Edward Jenner’s 1796 creation of the world’s first smallpox inoculation to the present day, looking at both the benefits of vaccination as well as the current controversy over their potential neurological side effects and the pharmaceutical companies’ emphasis on treatment rather than prevention.

The Vaccine Race

The Vaccine Race
Science, Politics, And The Human Costs Of Defeating Disease

Meredith Wadman

Documents the controversial story of the development of the first widely used normal human cell line, paving the way for some of the world’s most important vaccines, against a backdrop of the devastating rubella epidemic of the mid-1960s.

Vaccines

Vaccines
What Everyone Needs To Know

Kristen A. Feemster

Vaccines: What Everyone Needs to Know? offers a scientifically grounded overview of the science, manufacture, and culture of vaccines in the United States and internationally. Aiming to offer an unbiased resource on this hotly debated subject, it provides accessible, authoritative overviews

 

Influenza

The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza
The Epic Story Of The Deadliest Plague In History

John M. Barry

An account of the deadly influenza epidemic of 1918, which took the lives of millions of people around the world, examines its causes, its impact on early twentieth-century society, and the lasting implications of the crisis.

Influenza

Influenza
The Hundred-Year Hunt To Cure The Deadliest Disease In History

Jeremy Brown

Published on the 100th anniversary of the 1918 pandemic, a veteran ER doctor’s exploration of the complex history of the flu virus also discusses modern-day influenza concerns, from flu shots to epidemic preparedness

Pandemic 1918

Pandemic 1918
Eyewitness Accounts From The Greatest Medical Holocaust In Modern History

Catharine Arnold

Describes the outbreak of the Spanish Flu 100 years ago that killed more than 50 million people around the world, including 550,000 in the United States, right in the middle of World War I.

 

Polio

Living With Polio

Living With Polio
The Epidemic And Its Survivors

Daniel J. Wilson

The personal stories of men and women who had acute polio and lived with its crippling consequences are chronicled in a history of the enduring physical and psychological experiences of the disease.

Polio

Polio
An American Story

David M. Oshinsky

A history of the 1950s polio epidemic that caused panic in the United States examines the competition between Salk and Sabin to find the first vaccine and its implications for such issues as government testing of new drugs and manufacturers’ liability.

 

All Others

The American Plague

The American Plague
The Untold Story Of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History

Molly Caldwell Crosby

Traces the impact on American history of yellow fever from the mid-seventeenth century onward, examining in particular the near-destruction of Memphis from the disease and the efforts of four men to combat the deadly scourge.

Asleep

Asleep
The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One Of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries

Molly Caldwell Crosby

Follows a group of neurologists in New York as they try to solve the worldwide epidemic of encephalitis lethargic, or sleeping sickness, the bizarre disease which left millions dead or in insane asylums between 1918 and 1927.

Deadliest Enemy

Deadliest Enemy
Our War Against Killer Germs

Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker

An epidemiologist describes what can be done to protect ourselves against fast-moving infectious diseases that can challenge world order, separating scientific fact from panic and fear and detailing the plans and resources that must be put into place before the next pandemic strikes.

Fevers, Feuds, And Diamonds

Fevers, Feuds, And Diamonds
Ebola And The Ravages Of History

Paul Farmer

Public health expert Paul Farmer describes the historical origins of the 2014 Ebola epidemic

Get Well Soon

Get Well Soon
History’s Worst Plagues And The Heroes Who Fought Them

Jennifer Wright

An irreverent tour of history’s worst plagues and the people who battled them includes coverage of the Antonine Plague, leprosy and polio while surveying the lesser-known, bizarre and grotesque details that marked each disease.

The Ghost Map

The Ghost Map
The Story Of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–And How It Changed Science, Cities, And The Modern World

Steven Johnson

A historical chronicle of Victorian London’s worst cholera outbreak traces the day-by-day efforts of Dr. John Snow, who put his own life on the line in his efforts to prove his previously dismissed contagion theory about how the epidemic was spreading

The Great Mortality

The Great Mortality
An Intimate History Of The Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague Of All Time

John Kelly

Chronicles the Great Plague that devastated Asia and Europe in the fourteenth century, documenting the experiences of people who lived during its height while describing the harrowing decline of moral boundaries that also marked the period

The Health Of Nations

The Health Of Nations
The Campaign To End Polio And Eradicate Epidemic Diseases

Karen Bartlett

Anyone interested in public health and its interface with politics will find both hope and frustration here. A fascinating look at epidemiology and the challenges that public health workers face.

Inside The Outbreaks

Inside The Outbreaks
The Elite Medical Detectives Of The Epidemic Intelligence Service

Mark Pendergrast

A history of the elite medical corps at the forefront of the world’s most dangerous epidemics cites their victories over such diseases as polio, cholera and smallpox, tracing their international expansion and present-day battles against such health risks as smoking, obesity and gun violence.

Justinian's Flea

Justinian’s Flea
Plague, Empire, And The Birth Of Europe

William Rosen

Traces the summer 542 bubonic plague pandemic that daily killed 5,000 people in Constantinople and nearly ended the life of the emperor Justinian, in an account that traces how the outbreak had a significant impact on period military strategy, economics, and medicine.

The Pandemic Century

The Pandemic Century
One Hundred Years Of Panic, Hysteria, And Hubris

Mark Honigsbaum

Chronicles the last century of scientific struggle against deadly contagious disease–from the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic to the recent SARS, Ebola and Zika epidemics–examining related epidemiological mysteries and the role of disease in exacerbating world conflicts.

Pox Americana

Pox Americana
The Great Smallpox Epidemic Of 1775-82

Elizabeth A. Fenn

The author recreates one of the most overlooked chapters in American history–the smallpox epidemic that coincided with the Revolutionary War–in terrifying, eye-opening detail, tracing its influence on colonial life and the course of the war.

The Viral Storm

The Viral Storm
The Dawn Of A New Pandemic Age

Nathan Wolfe

A Stanford biologist reveals the lesser-known origins of some of the world’s most deadly viruses while explaining the link between modern life and global pandemic threats, recounting his research missions in various world regions while sharing insights into how developing technologies may counter potential threats