The Impact of Germs and Their Power over Humanity
by Joshua S. Loomis
January 2018, 323pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6142-0
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6143-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Smallpox once brought together two sworn enemies who were on the brink of nuclear war.

This book comprehensively reviews the 10 most influential epidemics in history, going beyond morbid accounts of symptoms and statistics to tell the often forgotten stories of what made these epidemics so calamitous.

Unlike other books on epidemics, which either focus on the science behind how microbes cause disease or tell first-person accounts of one particular disease, Epidemics: The Impact of Germs and Their Power over Humanity takes a holistic approach to explaining how these diseases have shaped who we are as a society. Each of the worst epidemic diseases is discussed from the perspective of how it has been a causative agent of change with respect to our history, religious traditions, social interactions, and technology. In looking at world history through the lens of epidemic diseases, readers will come to appreciate how much we owe to the oldest and smallest parasites.

Adults and students interested in science and history—and especially anyone who appreciates a good story and has a healthy curiosity for the lesser-known facts of life—will find this book of interest. Health-care workers will also benefit greatly from this text, as will college students majoring in biology or a pre-health field.


  • Discusses epidemic disease as a major driving force in shaping our world
  • Brings epidemic diseases out of the background of historical narratives and demonstrates how they have had an immensely important role in deciding wars, toppling empires, sparking major leaps in technology, and even changing the human genome
  • Integrates science with history, sociology, religion, and other disciplines to provide the reader with a unique perspective not found in most other accounts of epidemic disease
  • Shares fascinating insights such as how an epidemic of yellow fever helped to double the size of the United States and why tuberculosis was once considered a disease of the intellectual elite
Joshua S. Loomis, PhD, is assistant professor of biology at East Stroudsburg University. He has taught courses in microbiology and epidemic disease for more than 12 years and has coauthored numerous articles focused on those same fields. He is a partner in the Small World Initiative, a global consortium of scientists and students working together in search of novel antibiotics produced by soil microorganisms. After earning his PhD in microbiology and immunology from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, he focused his post-doctoral research on the use of genetically engineered viruses as novel treatments for cancer.
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