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Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill

Plagues and Peoples (1976)

by William H. McNeill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,444167,948 (3.97)44

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English (15)  Dutch (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Plagues and Peoples is a very good read. It can be a bit academic in its word choice and aims, but if it was one of the first books to claim that disease had a major impact in politics and demography throughout history as McNeil claims, it is truly a seminal work. I had a bit of a feeling like I would have been more blown away by it if I had read it in the seventies, and it perhaps has lost a bit of it’s “wow” factor, but it is a good read despite that. A couple of reviews have compared it to Guns, Germs and Steel, and I couldn’t help to as well. I read Jared Diamond’s work first, and I can’t help that think that Plagues and Peoples was a springboard for his ideas. Diamond’s work is more accessible to a wider audience, but Plagues and Peoples drills down into a specific subject. There are a lot of references to flip to in the back. The book reads fine without flipping back to them, but I enjoyed reading the extra notes. ( )
  renardkitsune | Jul 8, 2018 |
McNeill in this seminal volume offers a very interesting and informative overview of the past interactions and continuing interactions between so-called "macroparasitism"--that is, predation of man upon man--and "microparasitism"--the relation between tribes or nations of men and the organisms in their microenvironment. This may be one of the first books to systematically examine the equilibrium that develops over time as diseases adapt to hosts, and how that microparasitic equilibrium can be disturbed by macroparasitic movements of people, whether through war or trade or expansion. A book that anybody who is interested in medical history should read. ( )
  L_Will | May 14, 2018 |
Excellent argument that human history is driven as much by disease (microparasites) as by armies (macroparasities). As the author says, "In most places epidemic diseases have become unimportant, and many kinds of infection have become rare where they were formerly common and serious. The net increment to human health and cheerfulness is hard to exaggerate; indeed, it now requires an act of imagination to understand what infectious disease formerly meant to humankind, or even to our own grandfathers." This book can help you understand what role disease had for much of human history. ( )
  jimcintosh | May 11, 2016 |
A very important book explaining the influence of disease on world history. What I particularly liked was the comparison of earlier "robber knight" types with plagues. The book stays with you for a long time. ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 12, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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William H. McNeillprimary authorall editionscalculated
Robertson, ChrisCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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(Preace): Readers of a book about epidemic infections, like this one, are sure to wonder why it contains no mention of AIDS.
(Introduction): Nearly twenty years ago, as part of my self-education for writing The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, I was reading about the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
Before fully human populations evolved, we must suppose that like other animals our ancestors fitted into an elaborate, self-regulating ecological balance.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385121229, Paperback)

No small themes for historian William McNeill: he is a writer of big, sweeping books, from The Rise of the West to The History of the World. Plagues and Peoples considers the influence of infectious diseases on the course of history, and McNeill pays special attention to the Black Death of the 13th and 14th centuries, which killed millions across Europe and Asia. (At one point, writes McNeill, 10,000 people in Constantinople alone were dying each day from the plague.) With the new crop of plagues and epidemics in our own time, McNeill's quiet assertion that "in any effort to understand what lies ahead the role of infectious disease cannot properly be left out of consideration" takes on new significance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:22 -0400)

"Reissued with a new introduction and a chapter discussing the influence of AIDS on contemporary times, Plagues and Peoples explores the political, demographic, and psychological effects of disease on the human race over the entire sweep of human history, from prehistory to the present."--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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