Hardback
September 23, 2010
9780801896965
English
352
113123
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3
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$27.00 USD, £20.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Death in a Small Package

A Short History of Anthrax

A disease of soil, animals, and people, anthrax has threatened lives for at least two thousand years. Farmers have long recognized its lasting virulence, but in our time, anthrax has been associated with terrorism and warfare. What accounts for this frightening transformation? Death in a Small Package recounts how this ubiquitous agricultural disease came to be one of the deadliest and most feared biological weapons in the world.

Bacillus anthracis is lethal. Animals killed by the disease are buried deep underground, where anthrax spores remain viable for decades or even centuries and, if accidentally disturbed, can cause new infections. But anthrax can be deliberately aerosolized and used to kill—as it was in the United States in 2001.

Historian and veterinarian Susan D. Jones recounts the life story of anthrax through the biology of the bacillus; the political, economic, geographic, and scientific factors that affect anthrax prevalance; and the cultural beliefs about the disease that have shaped human responses to it. She explains how Bacillus anthracis became domesticated, discusses what researchers have learned from numerous outbreaks, and analyzes how the bacillus came to be weaponized and what this development means for the modern world.

Jones compellingly narrates the biography of this frightfully hardy disease from the ancient world through the present day.

About the Author

Susan D. Jones is a veterinarian and an associate professor in the Program in the History of Science and Technology and the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She is the author of Valuing Animals: Veterinarians and Their Patients in Modern America, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Endorsements

An important piece of work. Jones is extremely well versed in the biology of anthrax, and she understands as well the social and environmental context. Her decision to write from the point of view of the organism is excellent. Jones avoids the trap of writing from a purely human perspective. She develops not only the ecology of the disease but also how it was transformed from a local into an international problem.

- Gerald N. Grob, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Reviews

An excellent resource for understanding the history of anthrax and its relationship to humans... Highly recommended.

- Choice

Jones's study breaks new ground in linking the histories of four types of anthrax: agricultural, laboratory, industrial, and weaponized... A great virtue of Jones's book is the dialogue between biology and history... Death in a Small Package beautifully illustrates the old truism that history is a dialogue between the present and the past and should be an essential text of historiography courses, as well as those on infectious diseases, military research, and bioethics.

- Michael Worboys - Bulletin of the History of Medicine

A rich history of anthrax, which weaves together themes ranging across laboratory science, preventive medicine, and the technological developments which brought together biological agents and pre-existing military expertise... [an] excellent book.

- James F. Stark - British Journal of the History of Science

Jones' book provides plenty of thought-provoking material for general readers and for specialist teachers of science and technology courses alike.

- Mark Honigsbaum - Social History of Medicine

Death in a Small Package is interesting, well written, and accessible, presenting a worthwhile addition to the history of modern medicine and bacteriological science.

- Karen Brown - Isis

This history of anthrax describes the bacteria’s transformation from agricultural disease to biological weapon.

- Science News
Johns Hopkins University Press
Johns Hopkins Biographies of Disease
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9780801896965 : death-in-a-small-package-jones
Hardback
352 Pages
$27.00 USD

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Valuing Animals

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