Public Health

There probably aren’t many people who could say they “like” diseases, but they are interesting subjects for researchers and writers.  Especially interesting are accounts of how society copes with illness, now and in the past – and in what ways particular diseases were perceived by the society struggling with them.  Here are a few investigations of the culture-individual-illness matrix:

Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera by Sandra Hempel
This book, and Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, are about the very birth of epidemiology, and the extraordinary man responsible for the idea that disease had patterns, that understanding it had a geographic dimension, and that illness could be combated by simply removing a pump handle and ending access to tainted water.

The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald
This famous book has value on many levels — it is by and about a Seattle author and how she confronted the disease that still challenges medicine today.  Writing over half a century ago, MacDonald treats serious subjects with humor but offers very detailed descriptions of life in a tuberculosis sanatorium.  The isolation and shunning that people with TB suffered along with Continue reading “Public Health”