Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases

Workman. Sept. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9781523513291. $24.95. HEALTH
Kang and Pedersen (co-authors of Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways To Cure Everything) return with a compendium of brief, informative chapters on significant disease outbreaks throughout the world, from the 1800s to the present day. The book is separated into three sections—infection, spread, and containment—with easy-to-understand text and attractive illustrations. It discusses contagions like yellow fever, Ebola, and coronaviruses, their origins, and their social impacts, and is global in scope, covering outbreaks in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Snapshot sidebars provide brief information about related subjects; for instance, a sidebar about public health workers discusses the detective work of backtracking, discovering transmission points, and outlining timelines of outbreak events. This resource is a great starting place to learn about outbreak conditions and the development of medical technologies to control the spread of disease. For more detail, readers should seek out histories of specific illnesses or outbreaks, which Kang and Pedersen support with this book’s extensive lists of resources. Kang and Pedersen’s entertaining narrative style makes the informative content engaging.
VERDICT A solid purchase for public libraries.
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