The Deadly Truth by Gerald N. Grob
A History of Disease in America

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Synopsis


The Deadly Truth chronicles the complex interactions between disease and the peoples of America from the pre-Columbian world to the present.


Grob's ultimate lesson is stark but valuable: there can be no final victory over disease. The world in which we live undergoes constant change, which in turn creates novel risks to human health and life. We conquer particular diseases, but others always arise in their stead. In a powerful challenge to our tendency to see disease as unnatural and its virtual elimination as a real possibility, Grob asserts the undeniable biological persistence of disease.


Diseases ranging from malaria to cancer have shaped the social landscape--sometimes through brief, furious outbreaks, and at other times through gradual occurrence, control, and recurrence. Grob integrates statistical data with particular peoples and places while giving us the larger patterns of the ebb and flow of disease over centuries. Throughout, we see how much of our history, culture, and nation-building was determined--in ways we often don't realize--by the environment and the diseases it fostered.


The way in which we live has shaped, and will continue to shape, the diseases from which we get sick and die. By accepting the presence of disease and understanding the way in which it has physically interacted with people and places in past eras, Grob illuminates the extraordinarily complex forces that shape our morbidity and mortality patterns and provides a realistic appreciation of the individual, social, environmental, and biological determinants of human health.

 

About Gerald N. Grob

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Gerald N. Grob is the Henry E. Sigerist Professor of the History of Medicine Emeritus at Rutgers University.
 
Published September 27, 2002 by Harvard University Press. 349 pages
Genres: History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Deadly Truth

Kirkus Reviews

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An erudite, thoroughly researched account of how infectious diseases and chronic illnesses have evolved in America, from pre-Columbian times to the present.

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The Guardian

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The Deadly Truth: A History of Disease in America by Gerald N Grob 352pp, Harvard, £23.50 Some years ago I attended a conference called "Clinical Futures", at which various medical luminaries were invited to address the audience on the future of medicine and medical care.

Jan 18 2003 | Read Full Review of The Deadly Truth: A History o...

Project MUSE

Readers with a smattering of knowledge about world history, economic history and social history may be a bit troubled by Grob's conviction that Europeans arriving in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in what is now North America and Meso-America came upon an essentially Empty Land.

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Project MUSE

However, in The Deadly Truth he allows himself a broader canvass—the history of disease throughout American history from colonial times to the present.

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Project MUSE

Commentators were writing about infectious diseases in much the same vein 150 years ago, but proof of the germ theory suddenly opened the door to the control of infectious diseases that we have today.

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Project MUSE

The Deadly Truth ends with the occupational health hazards of the industrial revolution, the 20th century's apparent victory over infectious disease, the rising prevalence of chronic disease, and the recent emergence of "new" illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.

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