Books and other resources on the history and current threat of global epidemics
Current Threat | History | Kids & Teens | Videos
The Current Threat
- The invisible people : how the U.S. has slept through the global AIDS pandemic, the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of our time / Greg Behrman (2004) 362.1969792 BEHRMAN
- Charging that the United States has taken an irresponsible stance toward the global AIDS epidemic, a critical account traces the political and racial factors that the author believes are behind America's failure to act in afflicted Third World nations.
- Moving mountains : the race to treat global AIDS / Anne-Christine D'Adesky (2004) 616.97205 DADESKY
- Twenty-five million dead; 42 million infected; 35 million cases in underdeveloped countries; $10,000 per year cost for antiretroviral drugs; life expectancy falling 36 years -- the grim details pile up quickly in d'Adesky's account of the global AIDS crisis.
- The monster at our door : the global threat of avian flu / Mike Davis (2005) 614.518 DAVIS
- A sobering forecast of a potentially lethal virus known as H5N1, currently affecting the poultry and wild bird populations of East Asia, evaluates the World Health Organization's concerns that the virus is on the brink of mutating into a pandemic illness and cites the ecological and political factors that are contributing to the threat.
- Epidemic! : the world of infectious disease / Rob DeSalle, editor (1999) 614.4 EPIDEMIC
- Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History (curated by DeSalle), this volume presents 40 short essays and case studies written for the general reader on the role of infectious disease in our world. The material is organized into six sections, each with an introductory essay by DeSalle, that cover evolution, ecology, and culture; exposure; infection; outbreaks; epidemics and pandemics; and preventative action.
- Federal bodysnatchers and the new guinea virus : people, parasites, politics / Robert S. Desowitz (2002) 616.9 DESOWITZ
- Although the title refers to a controversy regarding the patenting of a virus based on genetic information obtained from the Hagahai people of New Guinea, that is the topic of only one of these ten essays by epidemiologist Desowitz. Writing for the lay reader, he also discusses other topics related to the intersection of viruses, epidemiology, and politics, including the international cooperation needed to combat the West Nile Virus in Bucharest, the controversy over the continuing use of DDT in underdeveloped countries, and the funding of malaria vaccine research.
- Secret agents : the menace of emerging infections / Madeline Drexler (2003) 614.4 DREXLER
- A Boston-based medical journalist explains how communicable diseases that have long plagued humans continue to evolve, and attempts to foil them. What is new is their association with chronic diseases and potential spread by bioterrorism.
- Encyclopedia of AIDS : a social, political, cultural, and scientific record of the HIV epidemic / edited by Raymond A. Smith ; forewords by James W. Curran, Peter Piot (2001) REF 362.1969792 ENCYCLOP 2001
- Provides a comprehensive look at AIDS in the areas of politics, medicine, law, culture, and science, offering information on how to help increase awareness and featuring contributions by 175 authorities.
- The return of the white plague : global poverty and the "new" tuberculosis / edited by Matthew Gandy and Alimuddin Zumla (2003) ON ORDER
- Tuberculosis kills about two million people a year worldwide and has infected perhaps a third of the world's population. The World Health Organization has declared it a global emergency because it is spreading as a result of HIV/AIDS and the breakdown of public health systems in many countries; even more worrying is the emergence of multi-drug-resistant forms, threatening people everywhere. This book collects contributions from many academics and public health experts on the reasons for this problem and efforts to treat it.
- Betrayal of trust : the collapse of global public health / Laurie Garrett (2000) 362.1 GARRETT Betrayal
- The best-selling author of The Coming Plague examines the imminent crisis in global public health, demonstrating how a series of potentially devastating medical catastrophes -- from Zaire's Ebola virus outbreak to India's pneumonic plague -- could provide a worldwide threat to all human life.
- The coming plague : newly emerging diseases in a world out of balance / Laurie Garret (1994) 614.4 G192c
- Based on research and interviews with experts in virology, molecular biology, disease ecology, and medicine, an exploration of our battles with microbes examines the current outbreak of infectious diseases and outlines what can be done to prevent the coming plague.
- The bird flu pandemic : can it happen? will it happen? : how to protect yourself and your family if it does / Jeffrey Greene with Karen Moline (2006) NewCase 636.508962 GREENE
- A thought-provoking look at a potential public health nightmare provides definitive answers to questions about a worldwide bird flu pandemic that discusses the impact of such a disaster and what to do to keep oneself and one's family safe and secure.
- China syndrome : the true story of the 21st century's first great epidemic / Karl Taro Greenfeld (2006) 614.5920095 GREENFEL
- An account of the SARS virus outbreak of 2003 warns readers that the event served as a harbinger for future epidemics, discussing how the virus prompted international fear, significantly compromised Asian trade, prompted the efforts of scientists to find a vaccine, and influenced the control operations of the World Health Organization.
- AIDS in developing countries / Nancy Harris, book editor (2003) 362.1969792 AIDS in
- Presents essays offering various viewpoints on the crisis of AIDS in developing countries, providing critical information to form an educated opinion. From the At Issue series.
- The burdens of disease : epidemics and human response in western history / J.N. Hays. (2009)
614.4 HAYS 2009
- In this updated volume, with revisions and additions to the original content, including the evolution of drug-resistant diseases and expanded coverage of HIV/AIDS, along with recent data on mortality figures and other relevant statistics, J. N. Hays chronicles perceptions and responses to plague and pestilence over two thousand years of western history. Disease is framed as a multidimensional construct, situated at the intersection of history, politics, culture, and medicine, and rooted in mentalities and social relations as much as in biological conditions of pathology. This revised edition of The Burdens of Disease also studies the victims of epidemics, paying close attention to the relationships among poverty, power, and disease.
- The secret epidemic : the story of AIDS and Black America / Jacob Levenson (2004) 362.1969792 LEVENSON
- An investigation and social history of the AIDS epidemic among African-Americans traces how the disease moved into and became pervasive throughout the black community and discusses the contributions of the public health system, the church, urban renewal, and the politics of race.
- Beating back the devil : on the front lines with the disease detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service / Maryn McKenna (2004) 614.4 MCKENNA
- A portrait of the detective corps of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares behind-the-scenes information about their work in countering such threats as SARS, the anthrax attacks, and the West Nile virus.
- Killer germs : rogue diseases of the twenty-first century / Pete Moore (2001) 616.9 MOORE Killer g
- An investigation of the reality of modern "plagues" offers a chilling examination of the history of frightening strains of disease that loom on the horizon, including a history of infectious disease, cold and flu epidemics, and other epidemics for the curious layperson and medical professionals.
- Virus hunter : thirty years of battling hot viruses around the world / C.J. Peters and Mark Olshaker (1997) 614.4092 P442v
- The commander of the Army virology unit that battled the Ebola virus, now a top official at the Centers for Disease Control, looks back on his thirty-year career fighting deadly viruses.
- Virus ground zero : stalking the killer viruses with the Centers for Disease Control / Ed Regis (1996) 614.575 R263v
- Focusing on the CDC's top investigators and their most compelling stories, a collection of germ warfare tales chronicles the history of the CDC and follows its physicians' battles with deadly diseases throughout the world.
- Virus X : tracking the new killer plagues : out of the present and into the future / Frank Ryan (1997) 614.4 RYAN Virus X
- A meticulously researched account of humankind against microbe investigates the nature of plague viruses from diverse parts of the world and their implications, and presents a radical new theory about the origins of these deadly diseases.
- Bird flu : everything you need to know about the next pandemic / Marc Siegel (2006)
- The most important thing to know about the avian flu pandemic is that it probably ain't coming, argues this brisk debunking of the latest medical scare story. Siegel, an associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine, cites evidence that the death rate from avian flu could be much lower than the reported estimate of 50% and it will probably not mutate to be readily transmissible between humans. And unlike the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Siegel contends, a new bird flu pandemic would face effective public health measures and medical treatments.
- False alarm : the truth about the epidemic of fear / Marc Siegel (2005) 302.17 SIEGEL
- The author deconstructs the current culture of fear, concluding that most Americans are in fact safe from potential terrorism but are nevertheless subject to the advertising hype and propaganda surrounding the subject.
- Six modern plagues and how we are causing them / Mark Jerome Walters (2003) 614.4 WALTERS
- Discusses six new epidemics, exploring the connection between human changes to the natural environment and the appearance of West Nile virus, mad cow disease, HIV/AIDS, hantavirus, Lyme disease, a new strain of salmonella, and SARS.
- Yellow fever, black goddess : the coevolution of people and plagues / Christopher Wills (1996) 614.49 W685y
- Explores the evolutionary interaction between microbes and humans through an examination of the growth, struggle to survive, and dissemination of disease-causing protoza, bacteria, and viruses.
- Microbe : are we ready for the next plague? / Alan P. Zelicoff and Michael Bellomo (2005) 614.4273 ZELICOFF
- Zelicoff (Sandia National Laboratories) and Bellomo (an independent scholar) offer a highly accessible book about the major emerging infectious diseases of our time -- such as West Nile virus infections, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and "mad cow" disease -- as well as older diseases that continue to be public health problems (such as smallpox and anthrax). The primary focus of the book is not the diseases themselves, but past successes and failures in recognizing, reporting, and preventing them. The authors also present, in fairly detailed terms, the steps necessary to prevent history from repeating itself. In particular, the book goes into significant detail about surveillance systems, both those in use and those in development, which may be pivotal in warding off the next outbreak of a serious infectious disease.
- The great influenza : the epic story of the deadliest plague in history / John M. Barry (2004) 614.5180904 BARRY
- An in-depth account of the deadly influenza epidemic of 1918, a plague that took the lives of millions of people around the world, examines the causes of the pandemic, its devastating impact on early twentieth-century society, the researchers who risked their lives to confront the disease, and the lasting implications of the crisis and the scientific discoveries that resulted.
- The devil's flu : the world's deadliest influenza epidemic and the scientific hunt for the virus that caused it / Pete Davies (2000) 614.51809 DAVIES Devils f 2000
- Davies recounts the horrors of the worldwide 1918 epidemic; the efforts at identifying the virus strain, which led to the exhumation of long-frozen corpses in Alaska and Norway; and the 1997 outbreak of a deadly flu mutation in Hong Kong in which 1.6 million chickens and other birds were sacrificed to avert what seemed to be an emerging epidemic. Originally published in England in 1999 as Catching Cold.
- Guns, germs, and steel : the fates of human societies / Jared Diamond (1998) 303.4 DIAMOND
- An intriguing study of the rise of civilization argues that human development is not based on race or ethnic differences but rather is linked to biological diversity, discussing the evolution of agriculture, technology, writing, political systems, and religious belief.
- The people's health : a memoir of public health and its evolution at Harvard / Robin Marantz Henig (1997) 362.109 H388p
- Science writer Robin Marantz Henig assesses the dramatic evolution of public health issues through the lens of Harvard School of Public Health's contributions to research, from the fight against cholera in the mid-19th century to modern problems and plagues ranging from air pollution and the connection between poverty and illness to headline-grabbing viruses.
- Man and microbes : diseases and plagues in history and modern times / Arno Karlen (1995) 614.409 K146m
- A dramatic panorama of the natural history of disease draws on case studies, stories of medical detection, and recent research to explain the origins of modern epidemics and suggest methods to surmount growing public health crises in a global society.
- The great mortality : an intimate history of the Black Death, the most devastating plague of all time / John Kelly (2005) 614.5732 KELLY
- Drawing on extensive quotes from 14th-century records, Kelly, a noted medical and science writer, offers a compelling and eminently readable portrait of daily life during the Black Death. Concentrating on European society during the years 1347-49, he reveals how the poor and the wealthy alike were devastated by the plague, which also drastically affected Europe's social and economic infrastructure. In his final chapter, Kelly adds an interesting footnote regarding the pros and cons of recent theories that question whether the Black Death was actually caused by the plague bacillus.
- Flu : the story of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it / Gina Kolata (1999) 614.51809 KOLATA Flu
- An acclaimed science reporter for The New York Times describes the great flu epidemic of 1918, an outbreak that killed some forty million people worldwide, and discusses the efforts of scientists and public health officials to understand and prevent another lethal pandemic.
- When germs travel : six major epidemics that have invaded America since 1900 and the fears they have unleashed / Howard Markel (2004) 614.4973 MARKEL
- A physician and medical historian provides a definitive analysis of six major epidemics that have devastated America since 1900 -- including such threats as tuberculosis, typhus, and AIDS -- looking at the nation's response to the pathogens; explaining why globalization, social upheaval, and international trade leave us vulnerable; and calling for a globally funded public health program.
- Plagues and peoples / William H. McNeill (1976) 614.49 MCNEILL 1993
- Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact -- political, demographic, ecological, and psychological -- of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind.
- Twelve diseases that changed our world by Irwin W. Sherman (2007)
- In highly detailed and accessible accounts Sherman (The Scripps Research Institute) describes how porphyria and hemophilia figured so prominently in the royal families of Europe and led, respectively, to the madness of one king and the murder of another. He explains the biological and political roots of the Irish potato blight, the devastation wrought by cholera and smallpox in crowded cultures struggling to urbanize, the influenza that killed 22 million of the most healthy, the bubonic plague that killed 80 to 100 million but resulted in a seller's labor market, the tuberculosis and syphilis that felled great and low alike, and the scourges called malaria, yellow fever, and AIDS that also raised social awareness.
- A distant mirror : the calamitous 14th century / Barbara W. Tuchman (1978) 944.02 T79d
- The prize-winning historian traces the major currents of the fourteenth century, revealing the century's great historical rhythms and events and the texture of daily life at all levels of European society, including the effects of the Black Death.
- The black death / Philip Ziegler (1969) 614.5732 ZIEGLER
- Explores the lasting effects of the Black Death on European society and its contribution to the disintegration of an age.
For Children and Teens
- AIDS / by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (2005) 616.9792 BARDHAN
- Presents an overview of the current AIDS epidemic, including the causes of AIDS, its prevention and treatment, and the impact it is having on different countries in the world.
- Epidemiologists : life tracking deadly diseases / Dana Asher (2003) 614.4 ASHER
- Highlights the background and experiences of people who track diseases in large populations and try to discover the causes of those diseases.
- The influenza pandemic of 1918 / Virginia Aronson ; [introductory essay by Jill McCaffrey] (2000) 614.5180904 ARONSON Influenz
- Discusses the outbreak and worldwide spread of the deadly Spanish flu in 1918, methods of treating it, and efforts to study this killer virus and others like it.
- Outbreak : plagues that changed history / written and illustrated by Bryn Barnard (2005) J 614.4973 BARNARD
- Explores how major medical events and plagues impacted society and forever changed the course of history, including a review of the black plague and its effects on the feudal system and yellow fever and its impact on the slave trade.
- Epidemics / Mary E. Williams, book editor (2005) 614.4973 EPIDEMIC
- Presents a collection of essays exploring varying viewpoints on epidemics, covering such topics as the threat posed to humanity by infectious diseases, the curtailment of the AIDS epidemic, and the safety of vaccines. From the Opposing Viewpoints series.
- Epidemics : opposing viewpoints / William Dudley, book editor (1999) 614.4 E64 1999
- Discusses the threat of infectious diseases, the AIDS epidemic, the benefits of government vaccination programs, and the prevention of food-borne illnesses.
- Outbreak : disease detectives at work / Mark P. Friedlander, Jr. (2003) 614.4 FRIEDLAN 2003
- Describes the field of epidemiology and its history, presenting historical and modern case studies and biological explanations of some diseases and a discussion of the microbes most likely to be used by bioterrorists.
- Mapping epidemics : a historical atlas of disease / Brent H. Hoff and Carter Smith III ; Charles H. Calisher, consulting editor (2000) J 614.42 HOFF
- Presents basic information about diseases from anthrax to yellow fever, recounts their history and effects, and offers maps of their incidence and spread.
- Plague and pandemic alert! : disaster alert! / Julie Karner (2005) J 614.4 KARNER
- Features the science behind these deadly infectious diseases and tells how societies around the world cope with outbreaks of the Spanish flu, smallpox, and bubonic plague.
- The 1918 influenza pandemic / by Stephanie True Peters (2005) 614.5180904 PETERS
- Describes the 1918 influenza pandemic, from how World War I soldiers spread the disease to recent scientific efforts to understand the virus that took between twenty and forty million lives worldwide.
- SARS : severe acute respiratory syndrome / Fred Ramen. (2005) 614.592 RAMEN
- Describes the symptoms and spread of the severe respiratory illness and discusses treatments, preventive measures, and the search for a cure.
- Epidemic / written by Brian Ward ; chief editorial consultant, Rob DeSalle (2000) J 614.49 WARD
- Discusses what an epidemic is, how it evolves, various causes and carriers, and efforts to prevent epidemics. Period photos and illustrations enhance this in-depth examination of diseases that have effected the world throughout time and the different cures that have been developed to put an end to them.
- Ebola, the plague fighters (1996) VHS
- An investigation into the deadly Ebola virus and the 1995 outbreak of the disease in Kikwit, Zaire. From the Nova series on PBS.
- Epidemics: ebola, AIDS, bird flu and typhoid (2007)
- Four disc set covering major epidemic diseases. The fourth disc is a dramatization of the outbreak and a profile of Irish cook Mary Mallon, known as 'Typhoid Mary'. Quarantined against her will, the story reveals the newfound power of health officials to protect the masses, often at the expense of personal liberties. Originally produced for NOVA in association with WGBH Boston in 2004.
- Guns, germs, and steel (2005)
- An epic detective story that offers a gripping expose on why the world is so unequal. Professor Jared Diamond traveled the globe for over 30 years trying to answer this question. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Why did Eurasians conquer, displace, or decimate Native Americans, Australians, and Africans, instead of the reverse? Diamond dismantles racially based theories of human history by revealing the environmental factors actually responsible for history's broadest patterns.
- Killer flu (2004) VHS
- The video discusses the 1918 flu pandemic, its deadly consequences, and the possibility that a similar strain could occur today. Originally broadcast as an episode of the television program Secrets of the Dead on PBS.
- A paralyzing fear: the story of polio in America (1998) DVD
- The story of polio's rise to epidemic proportions in 1916 and its eventual eradication through vaccines in the 1950's. The documentary examines America's haunting fear of the disease it could not contain and tells the story of America's transcendence from that fear.
- Pandemic: facing AIDS (2003) DVD (C/WMARS)
- Directed by award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy, this theatrical version of the HBO series takes us from Uganda to India, Brazil, Thailand, and Russia to reveal five remarkable stories of people who have been touched by AIDS.
- 28 Days Later (2002)
- An infirmary patient wakes up from a coma to an empty room ... in a vacant hospital ... in a deserted city. A powerful virus, which locks victims into a permanent state of murderous rage, has transformed the world around him into a seemingly desolate wasteland. Now a handful of survivors must fight to stay alive, unaware that the worst is yet to come. Starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston; directed by Danny Boyle. Rated R.
- The Andromeda Strain (1970) (C/WMARS)
- A remote village in New Mexico is contaminated by a crashed satellite. Scientists fight the clock trying to analyze the lethal organism and discover a solution. Based on the novel by Michael Crichton. Starring Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, Kate Reid; directed by Robert Wise. Rated G. Remade as a TV movie in 2008 starring Benjamin Bratt.
- Outbreak (1995) VHS
- Dustin Hoffman plays Sam Daniels, a take-charge army virologist trying to stave off global biological meltdown. A rare killer virus from the jungles of Zaire has taken hold in a California community. Its mortality rate is 100%. And some say the only way to stop its spread is to firebomb the town and everyone in it. Featuring Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding, Jr.; directed by Wolfgang Petersen; based on the novel by Robin Cook.
- Panic in the Streets (1950) (C/WMARS)
- One night in the New Orleans slums, vicious hoodlum Blackie and his friends kill an illegal immigrant who won too much in a card game. When Dr. Reed confirms the dead man had pneumonic plague he must find and inoculate the killers. Starring Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Palance; directed by Elia Kazan. Not rated.
- Avian Influenza: Guidelines, recommendations, descriptions
- Country activities, outbreak news, and other resources from the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Global Health Facts
- Global data on HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other diseases and other health issues. From the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
- In Depth: Bird Flu
- News stories and background information from the BBC.
- 1918 Influenza Epidemic
- A Web Focus on the history and epidemiology of the 1918 flu pandemic, from Nature magazine.
- Pandemic Flu.gov
- Official site from the US Government, managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Provides links to U.S. government information and material from other sources on vaccines, travel and workplace safety, planning and response, research, and related topics. Includes a link to the May 2006 "National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan" outlining the federal government's strategy for handling the possibility of an influenza pandemic.
- Wide Angle: H5N1: Killer Flu
- Overview and updates from PBS.
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