The end of plagues : the global battle against infectious disease / John Rhodes.

  • Rhodes, John, 1947-
  • Books

About this work


"At the turn of the twentieth century, smallpox claimed the lives of two million people per year. By 1979, the disease had been eradicated and victory was declared across the globe. Yet the story of smallpox remains the exception, as today a host of deadly contagions, from polio to AIDS, continue to threaten human health around the world. Spanning three centuries, The End of Plagues weaves together the discovery of vaccination, the birth and growth of immunology, and the fight to eradicate the world's most feared diseases. From Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination in 1796, to the early nineteenth-century foundling voyages in which chains of orphans, vaccinated one by one, were sent to colonies around the globe, to the development of polio vaccines and the stockpiling of smallpox as a biological weapon in the Cold War, world-renown immunologist John Rhodes charts our fight against these plagues, and shows how vaccinations gave humanity the upper hand. Today, aid groups including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization have made the eradication of polio a priority, and Rhodes takes us behind the scenes to witness the hard-fought battles of scientist, philanthropists, volunteers, and more, and how soon we may be celebrating the eradication of a second infectious disease, polio"--Provided by publisher.


New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Physical description

xii, 235 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : black and white illustrations ; 25 cm


First edition.


The power of the invisible -- Circassian beauties and pioneering women -- The making of Jenner -- Why not try the experiment? -- The fourth achievement -- The foundling voyages -- The teeming humanity of nations -- A great and loud commotion -- Completing the picture -- Germ theory and the birth of immunology -- Victorious weapons against illness and death -- First light on the mystery of infantile paralysis -- Yearning to breathe free -- A great step forward -- Great themes and dirty little secrets -- The war on influenza -- Forged in the crucible of war -- Smallpox in a land of ancient wisdom -- The final defeat of smallpox -- Invisible weapons of war -- Benefits, risks, and fears -- Inspiration in the global village -- A team of many colors -- The milkmaid and the cuckoo.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 221-226) and index.


Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9781137278524
  • 1137278528