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Plagues and Peoples, Book Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 833

Book Review

Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill is a book that offers a captivating view of the world by showing the relationship between diseases and humankind. In his book, William has viewed diseases as something that can cause harm to human. He analyses the history of plagues using parasites that interact with the host. He reveals that, at one point in life, these parasites and hosts will be at equilibrium, a state that will allow both of them to survive favorably. This book has six chapters. The first two pages look at the early environment humans interact with after their birth. They also explore human expansion and development of agriculture. In addition, they show how diseases started. He argues that agriculture and human development are the main avenues that brought about diseases. When agriculture started shifting from inactive state, larger communities took part in it, fostering crowd diseases. He has arranged this book chronologically from ancient to modern times, showing different diseases that broke out at give times and the impact they brought.

In his book, William H. McNeill has made a massive contribution to the knowledge of people when it comes to diseases. He explores the history of diseases. From his point of view, human civilization is to blame for the changing patterns of plagues. He suggests, “”the time scale of world history should be viewed through the domestication of epidemic disease that occurred between 1300 and 1700″ (232). He identifies domestication as the main reason why diseases broke out. The famed revolutions i.e. the land that was started by the Mongols and the sea by the Europeans brought about diseases.

“Plagues and Peoples” by William H. McNeil tables a very new argument about how society was shaped. William is of the opinion that epidemics and plagues were critical in shaping the world. They influence the development of the society. In his book, he has classified parasitism into divisions. He refers to micro parasites as pathogens that have the ability to cause diseases. He compares human life in some communities to macroparitism. This life transforms the vanquisher to a parasite that depends on food from others. He illustrates how new epidemics and disease arose and led to an increased change in human behavior and transportation. From this, it is clear that pathogens evolved together with humankind.

William accounts for other crucial beliefs by giving details on the role played by measles and smallpox to eliminate populations and changing the culture. To him, these diseases are because of civilization. In addition, he goes ahead to propose that endemic diseases found in the sub-tropic India were protecting the culture of these people from being eroded by the Aryan culture. This is something that later saw the rise of hierarchal parallel caste system in the modern day India. However, this book has received criticism in that it lacks information to support the suggestions it makes. There has been research into the effects of these diseases in the Western World, but not in some areas like Africa and Middle East. He admits that there is little information about the effects of these diseases on such areas. The chances of having this data in the future are minimal. In no way does this affect the significance of the book. Many of the theories found on this book are about the development of civilization. This author has opened the eyes of readers to see the historical perspective of plagues.

After it was published, “Plagues and Peoples” became a popular and critical book that offered a radical interpretation of the world history. It illustrated the impacts of diseases on culture. From the typhoid epidemic in Europe, to conquest of smallpox in Spain and Mexico, to the bubonic plague in China, this book looks at the history of diseases in every detail. Ever since, AIDS was discovered in 1980s, another topic dealing with the same has been added to this book, making it a well-searched and provoking publication that many readers will find easy to read. This scholarly book takes the reader through an enlightening journey of human history. McNeill explores how the global history of infectious diseases affected the political destinies of human beings. The pathogens that cause disease have entered into society causing social and political destruction. On the positive side, the microorganisms have seen fertility of soil increase allowing surplus food, hence population growth.

McNeill examines disease pools in ancient China, India, and Mediterranean in details. The decay of Rome, which took place 200 and 600 A.D, marked the start of measles and smallpox outbreak. These two diseases killed a large number of children. It saw the rise of Christianity that encouraged people to nurse and care for the sick. The book has seen the rise of arguments from medical specialists due to lack of evidence to support its arguments. Despite this, Plagues and People is a delightful book that intertwines demography and ecology with culture and politics. It highlights on the effects these aspects had on culture and human life.

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