Plague by Edward Marriott
A Story of Rivalry, Science, and the Scourge That Won't Go Away

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A riveting account, at once a reconstruction of the race to find a cure, a history of bubonic plague, and an investigation into the threat of plague today
Plague. The very word carries an unholy resonance. No other disease can claim its apocalyptic or mythological power. It can lie dormant for centuries, only to resurface with ferocious, nation-killing force. Here, with the high drama of a great adventure tale, Edward Marriott unravels the story of this lethal disease: the historic battle to identify its source, the devastating effects of pandemics, and the prospects for the next outbreak.
Through a range of primary sources, Marriott takes us back to Hong Kong in the summer of 1894, when a diagnosis of plague brought two top scientists to the island-Alexandre Yersin, a lone, maverick Frenchman, and his eminent rival, the Japanese Shibasaburo Kitasato. Marriott interweaves his narrative of their fierce competition to discover the plague's source with vivid scenes of the scourge's persistence: California in 1900, when plague arrived in the United States; Surat, India, in 1994, where torrential floods drowned millions of rats, causing the worst epidemic in seventy years; and New York City, some time in the future, where there is a rat for every human being, a diminishing budget for pest control, and an emerging strain of plague that is resistant to antibiotics.
A masterly recounting of medical and human history, Plague is an instructive warning, a gripping account of history, and a chilling read.

About Edward Marriott

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Edward Marriott is the author of Savage Shore (0-8050-5556-8) and The Lost Tribe (0-8050-6449-4), a New York Times Best Travel Book. A recipient of the Thomas Cook and Banff Awards, he lives in London, where he contributes regularly to the BBC, the Times, and Esquire magazine.
Published March 3, 2003 by Metropolitan Books. 320 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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The take-home message is that plague has never been defeated and constant vigilance is needed, especially since an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacillus has emerged and it has spread from rats to other species of animals and their fleas.

Mar 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Plague: A Story of Rivalry, S...

The Guardian

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It was almost 50 years before it emerged that Yersin, working with very little help in a hut built from straw - Hong Kong's administrators refused to provide him with a laboratory - had successfully identified the way that plague is transmitted.

Nov 23 2002 | Read Full Review of Plague: A Story of Rivalry, S...

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