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Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1555814663
ISBN-10: 1555814662
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Author: Irwin W. Sherman, The Scripps Research Institute, USA
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 219 pages
  • Publisher: ASM Press; 1 edition (August 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555814662
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555814663
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DrPig39 on November 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
I ordered this book from the local distributor at a symposium on infectious diseases after I quickly skimmed through it. Superficially, it looked interesting and comprehensive. However, after reading it thoroughly I came away rather disappointed. I would not query Sherman's selection of diseases (porphyria/hemophilia, cholera, potato blight, malaria, syphilis, TB, smallpox, black death, yellow fever, influenza, AIDS) as comprehensively covering both the range of pathogens (from fungus to bacteria to virus) and the mode of transmission (inherited, airborne/ droplet, water-borne, STD, vector-borne) that have influenced human activity for the past several centuries. Rather, the problem is with the depth of discussion and the presumed audience. Each disease has a chapter devoted to it and begins with a potted history including origins, pathogenesis, mode of transmission, treatment and control, and how these have changed over time as new knowledge is discovered. So far, so good. However, closer inspection reveals that each history is culled from a handful of sources - invariably including the author's previous book "The Power of Plagues". There are no references cited in the text in any of the chapters making it difficult to verify or follow-up facts or interesting points oneself. At the end of the book there is a chapter-by-chapter bibliography revealing the paucity of information the author has used in compiling the book. The discussion and consequences of each disease discussed at the end of each chapter are also rather disappointing. Obvious points are laboured - more laboratory studies, more health promotion and education are called for; while more subtle points - e.g. cultural/societal factors affecting disease spread and control are skimmed over. In summary, this book falls between two stools - far too simplistic for an academic audience and rather too advanced for the layman (despite the author frequently resorting to everyday analogies to describe complex biological events).
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This is a fascinating read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'm a clinical microbiology nerd. However, after I read it, my father, who does not work in medicine, borrowed it and still found it very interesting. It is not written in clinical terminology, so anyone can understand it. It is a quick, but very informative read. I have actually read it twice!
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Format: Paperback
This book reminded me of a term paper, hastily compiled and poorly edited, the night before its due date. The subject had a good deal of unrealized potential.
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Very good. The section on the Irish Famine focuses too much on the blight of the potato at the expense of the social changes that were a result. It seems to impute the cause of the Famine to the blight, rather than to the political ideologies of the British Empire.
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Great book for the student interested in biology and history of how disease has affected life throughout history. My biology major daughter was very happy to receive as a gift.
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I gave this book (actual book, no Ebooks available yet) to my RN sister, who is interested in diseases! She said the disease descriptions are very good, but there's too much history of each disease, she got the impression the historical writings were fillers..although the research was very good. Each disease got about equal write up, and for an RN there's not too much medical jargon. I myself leaved through the book and it looked pretty medical-ly to me (I'm not an RN), but all in all, I was told sis has much more insight into the epidemic diseases and their causes and how medicine and research has evolved. A perfect gift for a medical person who is interested in disease evolution.
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Very interesting book. Was reminded of things I had learned in high school but forgot.
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I love this book. It can be read for education or just for pleasure, I read it for a microbiology class in school. Later on I read it again for fun, because you learn so much. My favorite theme in this book is the ongoing race between Pasteur and Koch to make new discoveries in diseases. The book is pretty easy to read but not dummed-down. Most people with some science background won't have any problems reading it for fun.
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