June 03 , 2008


How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to Avian Flu


Deaths from epidemic disease are rare in the developed world, yet in our technically and medically advanced society, an ever-present risk of disease has created an industry out of fear.

As Philip Alcabes persuasively argues in Dread, our anxieties about epidemics often stray from the facts on the ground. In a fascinating exploration of the social and cultural history of epidemics, Alcabes delivers a different narrative of disease-one that requires that we reexamine our choice of enemies, and carefully consider the potential motivation of epidemic alarm-bells to further medical, moral, or political campaigns.

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