Plagues, Pandemics and Viruses: From the Plague of Athens to Covid 19

Visible Ink. Nov. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781578597390. $49.95; pap. ISBN 9781578597048. $22.95. SCI
In this latest work, Quinlan (Weapons and Warfare) presents nontechnical explanations of plagues, pandemics, and viruses, including their long-term societal effects. Chapters vary in length, but all mange to be thorough. Included are overviews of early medical history, vaccine development, various plagues, sexually transmitted infections, coronaviruses (including the common cold, MERS, SARS, COVID-19), and pathogens. Information is current, accurate, and presented in an interesting, simple, straightforward manner. More of a standard nonfiction book than a reference, this would be a stronger offering if it included footnotes or endnotes as well as chapter bibliographies. While the resource list at the end includes works ranging from 1918 to 2020, it does not pick up works referred to within the text and sidebars. Similar titles such as David Waltner-Toews’s On Pandemic and Thomas J. Bollyky’s Plagues and the Paradox of Progress are better suited to reference use.
VERDICT Delightful, enjoyable, and informative but lacking as a quality, comprehensive resource. Will appeal to general readers interested in basic, jargon-free information on pandemics and viruses.

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