Pathogenesis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues by Jonathan Kennedy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well-structured, informative, and delightfully approached in a systemic way, we get a pretty thorough overview of plagues. No, this isn't a play-by-play namebook of plagues, but a great setup of actual HISTORY and how it was very likely shaped, heavily, by the plagues that ravaged it.
This is very much up my alley. I was ALWAYS fascinated by the way Europe was shaped, economically, by the effects of so much death. It's also worth noting that a great deal of what caused the Roman Empire to fall was based on this fact as well. But let's get serious. Every aspect of our lives, be it ancient history (or pre-history) or the wide-reaching transformations of economic or political systems, let alone plunder, as in the case of the Aztecs or the rest of the Americas, can be laid at the feet of disease.
A lot of people would love to blame others (Jewish, blacks, or otherwise,) or announce superiority of race (for having accomplished long years of immunity) for their failures or successes. The amount of actual history trying to convince us of one thing or another is quite astounding, when Occam's Razor is so clear. Overwhelming advantage, or in the case of the Slave Trade, a natural immunity to disease that ravaged the whites, made it economically feasible to create the horrorshow we've recorded.
A lot of these ideas aren't new, of course. I grew up learning how Native Americans were ravaged by the plague that earlier settlers brought, leaving countless crop fields untended for many decades, ripe for new settlers to profit from.
Fortunately, this book not only spells out the conditions for opportunism or eventual demise. It also gives us an extremely cogent reason why any country ought to focus on increasing the health of its people. Yes, I'm looking at you, America, Canada.
Let's not forget: Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it.
I'll be clearer: Let's stop being f***ing morons. Get our act together. Invest in everyone's longevity or be forced to deal with exponentially tragic outcomes that no-one in that environment will profit from.
Or rather, we can't ruin a bunch of people's lives and expect them to be happy and willing to support those who shat on them. When everyone's lives are improved, then the basic fruit, let alone pursuit, of life, liberty, and happiness is actually feasible. Public health is one of those no-brainers, and yet, we keep seeing the fruits of no-brains.
Welcome to history, people.
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