Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History

Hachette Audio. Feb. 2022. 8:53 hrs. ISBN 9781549136085. $25.98. MED
Entrenched images of tuberculosis as a bygone killer of Romantic poets and antiquated source of superstitions that inspired Dracula are thoroughly explored and even more thoroughly subverted in this politically aware history of a far-from-historical disease. Health reporter Krishnan writes with exceptional journalistic clarity but doesn’t hesitate to catch and hold listeners by the heartstrings. Through Krishnan’s stories about patients’ struggles to obtain treatment, we learn that corporate greed has done as much to keep TB alive and increasingly drug-resistant as had the centuries of ignorance before widespread acceptance of germ theory. Sneha Mathan’s mellifluous, evenly paced narration turns pained as she reads these personal tragedies. Krishnan details and soundly condemns the policies that have spread this localized plague, but laments that it may be too late to prevent yesterday’s global pandemic from becoming tomorrow’s.
VERDICT Recommended for all public libraries, this beautifully narrated title puts an ongoing public health crisis in its proper historical context and argues articulately and persuasively against the pharmaceutical patents that have helped it proliferate.
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