Synopses & Reviews
This book is a major and wide-ranging study of the great epidemic scourges of humanity -- plague, leprosy, smallpox, syphilis, cholera, and yellow fever/malaria -- over the last six centuries. It will become the standard account of the way diseases arising through chance, through reckless environmental change engineered by man, or through a combination of each were interpreted in Western Europe and in the colonized world.
"This book studies the great epidemics that have scourged the globe over the course of the last six centuries. The plague, leprosy, smallpox, syphilis, cholera, and yellow fever (a.k.a. malaria) all find their place here. Watts views the movement of epidemics as a manifestation of imperial power. It was the rulers of infected lands who determined the official response to invading diseases and the rulers who would protect privileged groups more than other groups. This exhaustive history begs comparison to the influential work Plagues and Peoples of William McNeill. Particularly interesting is Watts's account of popular interpretation of epidemics as divine revenge on sinners." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
A study of the great epidemic scourges of humanity over the last six centuries. It examines the connections between the movement of epidemics and the manifestations of imperial power in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe, showing how perceptions of whom a disease targeted changed over time.