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Plague Ports: The Global Urban Impact of Bubonic Plague, 1894-1901 (Hardback)
  • Plague Ports: The Global Urban Impact of Bubonic Plague, 1894-1901 (Hardback)

Plague Ports: The Global Urban Impact of Bubonic Plague, 1894-1901 (Hardback)

Hardback 366 Pages / Published: 08/01/2007
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A century ago, the third bubonic plague swept the globe, taking more than 15 million lives. Plague Ports tells the story of ten cities on five continents that were ravaged by the epidemic in its initial years: Hong Kong and Bombay, the Asian emporiums of the British Empire where the epidemic first surfaced; Sydney, Honolulu and San Francisco, three "pearls" of the Pacific; Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in South America; Alexandria and Cape Town in Africa; and Oporto in Europe.

Myron Echenberg examines plague's impact in each of these cities, on the politicians, the medical and public health authorities, and especially on the citizenry, many of whom were recent migrants crammed into grim living spaces. He looks at how different cultures sought to cope with the challenge of deadly epidemic disease, and explains the political, racial, and medical ineptitudes and ignorance that allowed the plague to flourish. The forces of globalization and industrialization, Echenberg argues, had so increased the transmission of microorganisms that infectious disease pandemics were likely, if not inevitable.

This fascinating, expansive history, enlivened by harrowing photographs and maps of each city, sheds light on urbanism and modernity at the turn of the century, as well as on glaring public health inequalities. With the recent outbreaks of SARS and avian flu, and ongoing fears of bioterrorism, Plague Ports offers a necessary and timely historical lesson.

Publisher: New York University Press
ISBN: 9780814722329
Number of pages: 366
Weight: 649 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 29 mm


"Provides an in-depth look at the ineffectiveness of certain public health disease control measures such as quarantine, isolation of patient contacts, and the importance of using knowledge of the pathogen's disease ecology for the development and implementation of effective control measures."
-International Journal of African Historical Studies

"[Echenberg] does an excellent job of presenting complex political and social consequences of the plague."
-Choice, Recommended

"An extensive comparative study."
-Science News

"Well written and fluent in narrating its stories, this work can provide good reading not only for historians and students specializing in medicine, but for a wider public as well."
-Journal of World History

"Echenberg's richly textured and deeply discerning account of the last plague pandemic is, as he points out, a cautionary tale of the politics of disease control in a globalized world. It should become compulsory reading for all who are engaged in the construction of the new discipline of global public health."
-New England Journal of Medicine

"An intriguing study that looks tat the global impact that bubonic place had in urban areas from 1894-1901."
-History in Review

"He (Echenberg) has produced a magistral, richly detailed account of bubonic plague's fin de cicle effects, and the sometimes less-than-sincere or thwarted efforts by public authorities to contain it."-James Reveley,International Journal of Martitime History

"Plague Ports highlights how international trade had connected ports in different continents by the end of the nineteenth century, with the potential to transform local epidemics into global pandemics."
-Journal of African History

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