It might sound crass to write that the COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest in a long line of infectious disease outbreaks, but a little perspective helps. Historian Kyle Harper previously impressed me with his study on
. In the role of climate and disease in the decline of the Roman Empire Plagues Upon the Earth, he offers a global, multidisciplinary environmental history of infectious disease, showing that it is a force that has both shaped and been shaped by human history. This magnificent book stood out as much for its nuance and academic rigour as it did for its readability.
environmental history, history and tagged adaptive immunity, adenoviruses, Aedes aegypti, Aedes mosquitoes, Africa, African slavery, agriculture, AIDS, Alfred Russel Wallace, ancient DNA, Andes mountains, Anopheles arabiensis, Anopheles atroparvus, Anopheles coluzzi, Anopheles funestus, Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles mosquitoes, Anopheles quadrimaculatus, Anthropocene Epoch, antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, antibodies, Antonine Plague, archaeology, Asia, Atlantic Ocean, Aztec civilization, bacteria, bats, Benjamin Franklin, beta thalassemia, bilharzia, birds, Black Death, black rats, book review, bovine tuberculosis, Brazil, bubonic plague, camels, Canada, Caribbean Sea, cattle, Charles Darwin, chickenpox, chickens, chimpanzees, China, chlorination, cholera, Christopher Columbus, cinchona bark, climate, climate change, coffee, colonialism, Columbian exchange, common cold, coronavirus, coronaviruses, COVID-19, crops, crowd diseases, Culex mosquitoes, DDT, demography, dengue fever, desinfectants, diarrhea, diarrheal diseases, diphtheria, Diptera, disease, disease ecology, disease vectors, DNA, dogs, domestication, donkeys, drinking water, Duffy negativity, dysentery, Ebola virus, economic growth, economic inequality, economics, Edward Jenner, Edward Long, Edwin Chadwick, Egypt, elephantiasis, empires, endemic diseases, England, environmental history, epidemics, epidemiology, Europe, evolution, faeces, falciparum malaria, famine, farming, feudalism, filariasis, fire, fish, flaviviruses, fleas, flies, fungi, Galen, genetics, genomics, geography, gerbils, Germany, globalisation, gorillas, governments, Gregory of Tours, haemoglobin, health, helminths, hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, herpes B, herpesviruses, Hippocrates, Hippocratic medicine, history, Holocene Epoch, Homo erectus, hookworm, horizontal gene transfer, horses, hospitals, houseflies, human evolution, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hunter-gathering, hygiene, Ibn Khaldūn, immune system, immunity, imperialism, India, Indian Ocean, Industrial Revolution, industrialisation, infectious diseases, influenza, innate immunity, inoculation, insecticides, Ireland, iron, Iron Age, Italy, jails, Jamaica, Japan, Jared Diamond, Johann Peter Franck, John McNeill, John of Ephesus, John Pringle, Joseph Lister, Justinian plague, leishmaniasis, leprosy, leptospirosis, Levant, lice, liver, London, Louis Pasteur, Louis-René Villermé, lungs, lymphatic filariasis, maize, malaria, Malthusian cycles, Manchus, Mansonia mosquitoes, marmots, mass mortality, Massachusetts, Mayflower (ship), medicine, Mediterranean Sea, mental asylums, Mexico, microbes, microbiology, migration, milk, Ming Dynasty, missionaries, molecular clock, molecular phylogenetics, Mongols, monkeys, morbiliviruses, mortality, mosquitoes, Mughals, mumps, Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleonic wars, Neolithic, Ochlerotatus mosquitoes, Ottoman empire, Ottomans, Pacific Ocean, palaeoanthropology, palaeodemography, palaeogenetics, palaeogenomics, palaeopathology, pandemics, parasites, parasitism, parasitology, paratyphoid fever, Paris, pathogens, Persia, Peru, pharmaceutical drugs, phylogenetics, pigs, plague, plantations, Pleistocene Epoch, polio, polio virus, poliomyelitis, Portugal, potato blight, potatoes, poverty, primates, primatology, Princeton University Press, protozoans, public goods, public health, public hygiene, Qing Dynasty, quarantine, quasispecies, rabies, railroads, railways, rats, red water fever, refrigeration, relapsing fever, respiratory infections, rhinoviruses, rice, rinderpest, Robert Koch, rodents, Roman empire, rotaviruses, rubella, Russia, Salmonella, Samuel Pepys, sanitation, SARS-CoV-2, scarlet fever, schistosomiasis, Scotland, sexually transmitted disease (STD), sheep, shigella, shigellosis, sickle cell anemia, skin, slave trade, slavery, sleeping sickness, smallpox, snail fever, snails, Song Dynasty, South America, Spain, Spanish influenza pandemic, squirrels, steamships, sugar, sugarcane, syphilis, Syria, Tang Dynasty, technology, the Enlightenment, The Princeton Economic History of the Western World, Thirty Years' War, Thomas Robert Malthus, Thomas Sydenham, ticks, tobacco, trade, trade routes, transportation, tropical diseases, tsetse flies, tuberculosis, typhoid, typhus, United States of America (USA), urbanization, vaccination, vaccines, variolation, viral vectors, virology, virulence, viruses, vivax malaria, warfare, water purification, water treatment, wealth, West Indies, whipworm, whooping cough, William McNeill, World Health Organization (WHO), yaws, yellow fever, Yersinia pestis, zoonosis on .
December 20, 2021 36 Comments
Ask most biologists about the history of genetics and they will likely mention Watson and Crick’s 1953 discovery of the double helix structure of DNA or the work of the monk Gregor Mendel that showed a simple form of trait inheritance. Professor of History Theodore M. Porter contends that there is another, largely forgotten side to this story. Long before words such as genetics and genes had been coined, the fledgeling discipline of psychiatry was recording details of patients in mental asylums, collecting vast amounts of data on human heredity.
Genetics in the Madhouse is a deep dive into the archives to reveal this little-known history.
genetics and tagged book review, eugenics, genealogy, genetics, Gregor Mendel, heredity, history of science, mental asylums, mental disorders, Princeton University Press, psychiatry, statistics on .
October 17, 2018 6 Comments