"Zinsser's account of lice and men remains a delight. Written in 1935 as a latter-day variation on Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Zinsser's book gives a picaresque account of how the history of the world has been shaped by epidemics of louseborne typhus.....Zinnser's romp through the ancient and modern worlds describes how epidemics devastated the Byzantines under Justinian, put Charles V atop the Holy Roman Empire, stopped the Turks at the Carpathians, and turned Napolean's Grand Armée back from Moscow."
—Gerald Weissmann, Emerging Infectious Diseases
"This book... is listed among the best sellers. The style is delightful, and the subject matter very interesting... [It gives an] account of man's defeats and victories against epidemics... Those who have read Dr. Zinsser's articles will enjoy this book, and to otehrs it will be a pleasant surprise."
—Elizabeth Hard, The American Journal of Nursing
"No one who buys this book will feel cheated."
—H. M. Parshley, Nation
"This book will surely be studied with great interest by the lay reader... [I]t presents "a fascinating blend of scientific and historical research, humour, and stimulating opinion."
—The British Medical Journal
“I had the fun of editing Hans’s book Rats, Lice and History, that unique account of what infectious diseases had done to change the fate of nations.”
—Edward Weeks, The Atlantic
About the Author
Hans Zinsser (1878-1940) received his doctorate at Columbia University and also was an instructor of bacteriology at Columbia University. Throughout his career he was also a professor at Stanford University as well as Harvard University. His scientific work focused on bacteriology and immunology and he is greatly associated with Brill's disease as well as typhus.
Gerald N. Grob is the Henry E. Sigerist Professor of the History of Medicine (emeritus) at Rutgers University. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and has been the president of the American Association for the History of Medicine. He is the author of The Deadly Truth: A History of Disease in America and, most recently, (with Howard H. Goldman) The Dilemma of Federal Mental Health Policy: Radical Reform or Incremental Change?