Chase, Marilyn. The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco. New
York: Random House, Inc., 2003.
Marilyn Chase's volume not only examines plague, but it is also a social, cultural and political history of San Francisco at the turn of the 20
century. After rats brought the disease from China, the virus first struck the Chinese. The white establishment wrongly figured they could stamp it out without considering cultural differences. Chase illustrates the official conspiracy--including the city's press--that not only kept information from the public, but actively misled San Franciscans. In the end, she demonstrates that the crusade to rid San Francisco of plague was won by diligence, discretion and distribution of the facts to the public.
Barry, John. The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. New
York: Penguin Books, 2005.
John M. Barry researches the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 in extraordinary detail. Barry investigates how medicine was practiced by the Greeks and Romans and medical theory advanced over time. In the United States at the end of the 19
century, there was little governmental oversight or national standards for the profession. After the United States finally entered World War I, soldiers were placed into overcrowded training facilities that were less than sanitary. Once the flu first broke out in a Kansas army barracks, it was quickly transferred to other encampments when soldiers transferred by train across the country. It easily vaulted into major cities, decimating large numbers of American citizens. When these soldiers went overseas, the flu went with them. Being especially contagious, it swept the globe in short order and left, by estimates, between 50 and 100 million dead. Barry has produced a massive and important work of epidemiological history which is, at the same time, as readable as a thriller.
Engel, Jonathan. The Epidemic: a global history of aids. New York: HarperCollins
Jonathan Engel's work is a well-written and fascinating geopolitical history of AIDS. He puts a human face on a worldwide pandemic. The discussion of the social, political and ideological construct surrounding the epidemic is exceptionally mesmerizing. Dr. Engel's research is comprehensive, and his methodical exposition casts an important light onto an issue that many may prefer to be swept into the shadows of civilization. Engel offers a systematic exploration of the disease, its rapid and far-reaching proportions, the victims and their suffering, and the barriers to effective eradication.