Throwbacklist Thursday

The Zika virus. It’s making headlines and provoking anxieties. A disease-causing pathogen carried by Aedes mosquitoes—the culprits behind yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya, among other ills—Zika was isolated in Uganda in the 1940s. Mosquitoes being mosquitoes, and humans having the habit of helping the insects breed and spread, Zika charged east across Micronesia and the Pacific. Recent reports of outbreaks center on Brazil, but the Centers for Disease Control have tracked it to several countries in Central and South America.

Disease and related subjects hold a prominent place on the UIP backlist and, for that matter, our roster of new releases. Below we present a few works to inoculate you with the invincible vaccine of knowledge.

duffyThe Sanitarians: A History of American Public Health, by John Duffy
The first modern history of public health services in the United States, The Sanitarians traces the evolution of the field from the late 1700s to the present. John Duffy, one of the leading authorities on American medical history and public health, provides a panoramic view, skillfully detailing how services have evolved to fit into the broader framework of American social, political, and economic change.

Starting with the 1793 yellow fever outbreaks, Duffy traces how urban growth led to the establishment of permanent health agencies as a means of coping with increasing health and sanitary problems. With the discovery of the role of bacteria, public health departments virtually eliminated major contagious diseases in the first half of the twentieth century. That immense task finished, they shifting their focus from sanitation and infection to organic disorders, environmental conditions, and other problems inherent to advanced industrial societies.

savittMedicine and Slavery: The Diseases and Health Care of Blacks in Antebellum Virginia, by Todd L. Savitt
Prey to brutal treatment, inadequate housing and sanitation, and poor diets, Virginia’s slave population had a distinctive medical profile that included sickle-cell anemia, lactose intolerance, and tuberculosis. Widely regarded as the most comprehensive study of its kind, Medicine and Slavery offers valuable insight into the alleged medical differences between whites and blacks that translated as racial inferiority and were used to justify slavery and discrimination. Todd L. Savitt evaluates the diet, hygiene, clothing, and living and working conditions of antebellum African Americans, slave and free, and analyzes the diseases and health conditions that afflicted them in urban areas, at industrial sites, and on plantations.

Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine: Ancient Sources, Translations, and Modern Medical Analyses, translated and with commentary by JoAnn Scurlock and Burton R. Andersen
Going way back, this fascinating volume makes readable the pathbreaking medical contributions of the early Mesopotamians. Cuneiformist JoAnn Scurlock and medical expert Burton R. Andersen combine their talents to survey this collected corpus and discern magic from experimental medicine in Ashur, Babylon, and Nineveh. Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine is the first systematic study of all the available texts. Together, they reveal a level of medical knowledge not matched again until the nineteenth century BCE. Practitioners in these nations developed tests, prepared drugs, and encouraged public sanitation. Their careful observation and recording of data resulted in a description of symptoms so precise as to enable modern identification of numerous diseases and afflictions.