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The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease (MacSci) Hardcover – September 24, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An engaging and expansive exploration of humankind’s quest to defend itself against disease." —History Today

“The historical tale of vaccination and the extraordinary achievements that have come from its implementation…this is a fascinating book.” —Cosmos Magazine

“An optimistic history of vaccinations and their underlying science…Rhodes also looks at vaccinations against tuberculosis and flu, HIV and malaria…the science behind these limited successes makes for some of the best chapters in the book, which is especially impressive given the difficulty of making immunology accessible to the lay reader” —Times Higher Education

“The remarkably clear voice of immunologist John Rhodes takes us through significant moments in man’s battle against infectious disease… excellent and captivating.” —The Book Bag

"The End of Plagues is a fascinating book and well worth a read for anyone interested in the history of medicine." —LSE Review of Books

About the Author

John Rhodes is an international expert in immunology and vaccine discovery, and has held research fellowships at the US National Institutes of Health and the University of Cambridge. From 2001 to 2007 he was director of strategy in immunology at GlaxoSmithKline, a leading multinational healthcare company. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, has served on UK government international vaccine missions and published numerous articles in leading journals such as NatureScience and the Lancet.  He lives and works in Cambridge, UK.
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Product Details

  • Series: MacSci
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; 1 edition (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137278528
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137278524
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,157,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an immunologist. I've been privileged to study the secrets of immunity and the power of vaccination at research centers in London, Cambridge, and Washington DC, and I'm keen to share them with a wider audience. My book, The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease, sets out to explore the universe of germs and the mysteries of immunity, explaining in everyday language the natural ways in which our bodies defend us against infection. Beginning with the discovery of smallpox vaccine, the book spans three centuries in pursuit of the story of vaccination as it spreads across the globe. It is a controversial story, peppered with crises, cliffhangers and dramatic shifts of fortune, and it leads at last to the global defeat of smallpox, the imminent eradication of polio, and a new war on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV-AIDS. As individuals protected by immunization, as parents making crucial choices to protect our children, and as global citizens in a world which can defeat disease, we are all participants in this extraordinary story.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Susman TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In The End of Plagues, the remarkably succinct and straight forward narrative of the author and immunologist John Rhodes takes you through significant moments in man's battle against infectious diseases. The book starts with the example of smallpox, for which Edward Jenner (1749-1823), first made a vaccine, having been in a world where variolation was on the rise. Between Jenner's first serum transfer - from an immune milkmaid to a servant's son - and the present day, several vaccines have been developed against diseases such as measles, various influenzas, and polio.

The accounts and the outlines of immunology history are equally exceptional and captivating in the book. They show that the passage of time has not eroded the level of complication of issues at hand. As a result, the case of smallpox is a solid theme to which Rhodes continually refers, as he tells us the tales of many other diseases.

The last pages of the book, the author leaves behind the looming, dark clouds of continued refusal and avoidance of vaccination, and the creation of potential bio-weapons, was used by the Japanese in their war with the Chinese during the WW2.
This work by no means heralds the end of plagues. What it gives us is a fascinating interpretation of the end of smallpox, and to man who deserves recognition for creating one of the most benign and effective means of prevention.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
There is a lot that the human species has messed up, from violations of human rights to ruination of the environment. Here is something we can be justly proud of: we have eliminated smallpox. We don’t even have to think about smallpox now, so we might not give ourselves the deserved credit for this accomplishment. Because we axed smallpox, we can have hope for ending also polio sometime soon, and maybe other diseases. That’s the optimistic story within _The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease_ (Palgrave Macmillan) by immunologist John Rhodes. Though Rhodes concentrates on smallpox, from the ways people tried to control it before there was a vaccine to its being declared eradicated in 1979, there are updates here on the battles against malaria, flu, polio, and others. It is a grand story of progress, with plenty of bumps along the way.

We have no smallpox now, so it is hard to imagine how fearful a disease it was, “the most terrible of all the ministers of death,” one writer called it. Edward Jenner, a country doctor in Gloucester, hypothesized that milkmaids got a related but relatively harmless disease, cowpox, and that it protected them from smallpox. Although there is evidence that others had had this idea, Jenner was the one to conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis. Jenner was to promote his vaccinations for the rest of his life, and because they worked, they became a standard of treatment. Thomas Jefferson, who in 1801 wrote admiringly of the discovery of vaccination, designed an insulated package to keep the vials of vaccine cool in shorter travels, and when the local physician was too busy to do the vaccinations, the president himself did them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rabdds72 on March 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well written book about the history of the eradication of Smallpox and the current attempt to eradicate Polio...
but the involvement of Rotary International in the latter effort has not been given sufficient credit. Only on page 198 do the two words Rotary International appear and it was the efforts of Rotarians in the Philippines in 1979 that initiated this effort and it was take world-wide by Rotary International in 1985 and it is the 1.2 million Rotarian volunteers that have mostly immunized the 2.5 billion children since its inception.
Certainly financial assistance from the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation has helped as the administration and assistance from the World health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF but as the Director-General of WHO recently stated: "Without Rotary this effort would never have begun and without the persistence of Rotarians this effort would not have continued". Richard A. Berryman DDS DGE Rotary District 7870
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terence C. Davies on April 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read many books of medical history over the course of a fifty year career, I didn't expect to find much that was new to me in this volume. Well, I didn't, but I did discover a sharpened and more appreciative perspective for the process that followed Jenner's ground-breaking insight, and led to the current level of promise in controlling some of the world's most virulent pathogens. Very well written and highly readable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ecareyincville on October 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Prepping for microbiology by reading this book. Only a little way in but I'm loving it. Will report back when I finish it! Learned about this book from Smithsonian Magazine.
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