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Biology of Plagues: Evidence from Historical Populations Revised Edition

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1107025394
ISBN-10: 0521017769
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Editorial Reviews


"... compelling ..."
American Journal of Human Biology

"The book is well-illustrated with maps, graphs and other data in tabular form and ends with an extensive bibliography ... This fascinating work is strongly recommended to all microbiolgists, immunologists, epidemiologists, and historians of these related disciplines."
Immunological Investigations

"Biology of Plagues is a fascinating read for those interested in the history of infectious disease and it is provocative and thought provoking."
The Lancet

"... compelling ... Scott and Duncan offer evidence that will convince readers and provoke historians to test their conclusions through additional research. This is an outstanding and complex book that not only makes a significant contribution to many different scholarly fields, but it reads like a detective story and is difficult to put down ... this work is a key reinterpretation that will influence future research and the teaching of European and world history."
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

"Filled with scientific and historical data, Biology of Plagues will provide ample fodder for not only historians and sciences interested in the study of historic epidemics, but also for modern day public health experts who not only have to deal with current outbreaks, but also future outbreaks of both well-known and novel diseases."
Anna Dogole, History in Review (

Book Description

The threat of unstoppable plague is an ever-present threat in these days of AIDS and Ebola. In the past, the Black Death and the Great Plague of London killed millions across Europe. Always assumed to be bubonic plague, this fascinating volume combining epidemiology and molecular biology with computer-modelling shows that it was not so. It will be of interest to a wide variety of readers in the social and biological sciences who are interested in the plagues of our past, and also in the implications for future epidemics.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Revised edition (July 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521017769
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107025394
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,274,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By PM on October 7, 2014
Format: Paperback

Home> Health

Was Ebola Behind the Black Death?

L O N D O N, July 30

By Jen Sterling

Controversial new research suggests that contrary to the history books,
the "Black Death" that devastated medieval Europe was not the bubonic
plague, but rather an Ebola-like virus.

History books have long taught the Black Death, which wiped out a
quarter of Europe's population in the Middle Ages, was caused by bubonic
plague, spread by infected fleas that lived on black rats. But new
research in England suggests the killer was actually an Ebola-like virus
transmitted directly from person to person.

The Black Death killed some 25 million Europeans in a devastating
outbreak between 1347 and 1352, and then reappeared periodically for
more than 300 years. Scholars had thought flea-infested rats living on
ships brought the disease from China to Italy and then the rest of the

But researchers Christopher Duncan and Susan Scott of the University of
Liverpool say that the flea-borne bubonic plague could not have torn
across Europe the way the Black Death did.

"If you look at the way it spreads, it was spreading at a rate of around
30 miles in two to three days," says Duncan. "Bubonic plague moves at a
pace of around 100 yards a year."

Unlike the bubonic plague, a bacterial disease which still exists in
parts of Asia, India and North America, viral diseases are p
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A good review of what possibly was the actual cause of the Black Death across Europe and England in the dark ages and early enlightenment periods. Very well researched and written. The one perspective that seems to be missing is scientific testing of the remains of those who died from the English and northern European plague to determine what disease killed them.
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