Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scourge Book Review

Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox

Jonathan Tucker’s Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox is a comprehensive view of smallpox that traces the disease’s history from the beginnings of inoculation in the Far East, through its role in the European conquest of the Americas, to its more recent role in bioterrorism and threats to national security. Tucker’s book is written in a clear, concise style that keeps the information at the forefront. Unlike Richard Preston’s Demon in the Freezer, Scourge is a chronological account of smallpox, and more like a history book than a novel. Although the book tends to introduce figures and names and then forget them as it progresses, in general, Tucker achieves a balance between a wealth of hard data and anecdotal details, so that a reader can either skim through Scourge or pore over the well-researched data.

Elaine Su

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