461 Followers
270 Following
jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Reading progress update: I've read 66 out of 336 pages.

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

I'm now through the chapter on Dancing Plague (chapter 3) and it's become clear I have to change my expectations of this book.  Its sub-title could have been better; something that more accurately reflects the writer's goal.  Because it seems clear to me that the writer's goal isn't so much that this book should be a scientific survey of history's worst plagues as it is a survey of the historical responses of the populace to history's worst plagues, and the critical importance that we learn from them and avoid repeating them.   Because it's not a matter of if a pandemic happens, but when.

 

So this book feels more anthropological than biomedical, and it feels aimed at a populace that doesn't read much in the way of non-fiction - at least non-fiction with an academic bent.  You know, the very people most likely to respond to a crisis with fear and superstition.

 

Saying all that, I'm enjoying the hell out of what I've read so far.  I think, from the perspective of what this book is meant to be (and this is not merely my speculation: she clearly outlines her aim, in the introduction, to make the people of the past more friendly and three dimensional), the writing is excellent: friendly, approachable, a little entertaining. I don't agree absolutely with everything she says; I think there needs to be more 'stop smoking it's killing you' ads, and I'm not sure about mass hysteria being a plague, but I do agree with her point that in times of crisis turning away, or turning on, your neighbours never makes anything better and sometimes turning to them does.

 

Still, while I'm happy to have the image of vomiting scabs replaced in my mind, I'd rather it not have been with the image of people dancing until the bones of their feet stuck out.  Blech.  Seriously, bring back the rivers of shit.