*Starred Review* Threats to human life invariably arouse public interest. Written for the nonspecialist, Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues covers the medical, cultural, sociological, and historical aspects of infectious diseases from prehistoric times to the present. About 300 articles, authored and signed by subject specialists, present an authoritative, often-engaging overview of diseases of consequence to humankind worldwide. Covering the broad aspects of human pandemics, articles range in length from one to several pages. Examples of articles include Biblical plagues, Bioterrorism, Black Death (1347–1352), Chinese disease theory and medicine, Legionnaires’ disease, Measles in the colonial Americas, Neolithic revolution and epidemic disease, Slavery and disease, and Whooping cough. There are also entries for individuals such as Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur. This work provides some fascinating background material on human diseases: for example, we learn that the pre-Columbian Incas believed that disease was linked to proper behavior, ritual purity, and the relationship between humans and the divine; debate continues on the organism responsible for the Black Death, which decimated human populations in Europe and the Mediterranean world in the fourteenth century; at least 40 million people died worldwide during the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919; isolated instances of bubonic plague still occur in the U.S. About 70 black-and-white illustrations and photographs supplement the text. References to further reading are included at the end of most articles, and some articles are augmented by primary source documents, highlighted in sidebars. Appendixes include an 11-page glossary and a 13-page bibliography. A 30-page index provides subject access to the contents. A complementary work, Facts On File’s Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence: From Ancient Times to the Present (3d ed., 2007), has entries for more than 700 epidemics or outbreaks but not for related topics such as infectious diseases, treatments, individuals, and historical contexts. Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues, notable for authoritative content on a topic of broad appeal, is highly recommended for public, special, and academic libraries. Also available as an e-book. --Nancy Cannon
"BOTTOM LINE: A useful resource, especially for those trying to learn about the cultural issues like news reporting on epidemic disease or societal reactions to leprosy, this well-written work would be a good starting point for research. …Recommended for academic libraries as well as high school libraries with decent budgets."
"This comprehensive reference goes far beyond mere events and dates but also details the public health costs of such social constructs as capitalism, colonialism, and medical ethics. Byrne (medieval and early modern history, Belmont U.) and his contributors cover everything from AIDS to yellow fever, and include the pioneers of research in infectious
diseases, biological warfare, the effects of demographics, medical theories from the West and Asia, health agencies and conventions, diseases based on diet or lack thereof, treatment facilities past and present, the roles of sexuality and gender, pharmacology, and the effects of inoculation on various pandemics."
SciTech Book News
"Threats to human life invariably arouse public interest. Written for the nonspecialist, Encyclopedia of
Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues covers the medical, cultural, sociological, and historical aspects of
infectious diseases from prehistoric times to the present. About 300 articles, authored and signed by
subject specialists, present an authoritative, often-engaging overview of diseases of consequence to
humankind worldwide. …This work provides some fascinating background material on human
diseases: …Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues, notable for authoritative content on a topic of broad appeal, is highly recommended for public, special, and academic libraries.' "
Booklist, Starred Review
"The work covers individual diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cholera, yellow fever, and SARS; epidemics like the bubonic plague in medieval Europe, 16th-century syphilis, and the 29th-century influenza pandemic; and environmental factors, including travel, poverty, slavery, and war. It also discusses the sociocultural and historical effects of disease, such as the relationship between the Black Death and late medieval Christianity; representations of disease in modern literature; and the relationship between sexually transmitted diseases and social reform. This work will be particularly useful research aid for advance high school or college students. Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates and general readers."
"[William Osler's Principles and Practice of Medicine]was one of the last successful single-author surveys of medicine, and it helped inspire the Rockefeller Foundation. . . to invest money in helping extend the diagnostic advances which Osler lauded into the therapeutic ones he noted to be lacking. Byrne's encyclopedia follows on from this tradition, albeit with an infectious focus. It is packed with enough good writing to make it happily respectable."
Times Literary Supplement
"The Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues is a suitable acquisition for colleges and larger public audiences."
Catholic Library World