Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped Our History

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Oxford University Press, 2009 - Science - 250 pages
Ever since we started huddling together in communities, the story of human history has been inextricably entwined with the story of microbes. They have evolved and spread amongst us, shaping our culture through infection, disease, and pandemic. At the same time, our changing human culture hasitself influenced the evolutionary path of microbes. Dorothy H. Crawford here shows that one cannot be truly understood without the other.Beginning with a dramatic account of the SARS pandemic at the start of the 21st century, she takes us back in time to follow the interlinked history of microbes and man, taking an up-to-date look at ancient plagues and epidemics, and identifying key changes in the way humans have lived - such as ourmove from hunter-gatherer to farmer to city-dweller - which made us vulnerable to microbe attack.Showing how we live our lives today - with increasing crowding and air travel - puts us once again at risk, Crawford asks whether we might ever conquer microbes completely, or whether we need to take a more microbe-centric view of the world. Among the possible answers, one thing becomes clear: thatfor generations to come, our deadly companions will continue to shape human history.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 How It All Began
9
2 Our Microbial Inheritance
29
3 Microbes Jump Species
54
4 Crowds Filth and Poverty
82
5 Microbes Go Global
112
6 Famine and Devastation
139
7 Deadly Companions Revealed
161
8 The Fight Back
184
Living Together
211
Glossary
216
Notes and References
228
Further Reading
238
Index
241
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

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Dorothy Crawford is Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, where she is also Assistant Principal for the Public Understanding of Medicine. She was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to medicine and higher education.

Books by the same author:
The Invisible Enemy: A Natural History of Viruses

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