Synopses & Reviews
"The most terrible of all the ministers of death." Thomas Macauley Mozart, Voltaire, Elizabeth I and Abraham Lincoln all had it--and survived. Millions did not. The scourge of smallpox affected rich and poor alike, killing many and disfiguring the rest. 'Cures' included bleeding, purging, oil of scorpions and even crabs' eyes. Edward Jenner's breakthrough in 1796 started the slow, often controversial, process of controlling the virus. By 1979 smallpox had become the first-ever disease to be eradicated. Yet, today, its possible use in biological warfare presents a major threat. This is an accessible account of the history, and possible future, of a terrifying disease. Ian Glynn is Professor of Physiology Emeritus at Cambridge University and Fellow of Trinity College. He is the author of An Anatomy of Thought (Oxford, 2000). Jenifer Glynn is a Cambridge historian and author of Tidings from Zion (Tauris, 2000).
A history of one of the most feared diseases, ending with a conditional human success story - the worldwide eradication of smallpox.
This is an engaging and fascinating story of a conditional human success story. Smallpox has been one of the most devastating scourges of humanity throughout recorded history, and it is the only human illness to have been eradicated, though polio may soon follow it to official extinction through human agency. However, while smallpox is officially extinct in nature, literally tons of the virus remain in guarded storage in Russia and at Fort Detrick in the US. Our fears that smallpox may return as a weapon of bioterrorists have led to the stockpiling of vaccine, and continuing vigilance, even though the official victory over smallpox is now 15 years old. The Life and Death of Smallpox presents the entire engaging history of our struggle and ultimate (?) victory over one of our oldest and worst enemies.
Table of Contents
1. 'The most terrible of all the ministers of death'; 2. From myths to mummies; 3. Coming into focus: 0 - 1500 AD; 4. Smallpox in the age of discoveries: 1500 AD to 1700 AD; 5. News from the east; 6. Kicking against the pricks; 7. The heyday of inoculation; 8. From cuckoos to cowpox; 9. The world-wide spread; 10. Confusion and compulsion; 11. A hundred years on; 12. 'Bring hither the fatted calf'; 13. Sorting out the viruses; 14. Eradication: the beginning of the end; 15. 'annihilation of the smallpox'; 16. 'And out of good still to find means of evil'.