“Clear, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, Germs, Genes & Civilization makes the case that infectious diseases have played a major role in shaping society. Clark argues that religion, morals, and even democracy have all been influenced by the smallest and most dangerous organisms on our planet. While you may not accept every argument, you will be stimulated, entertained, and enlightened.”
Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D., President, Stony Brook University, and former Director of the Midwest Regional Center for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research
“Clark presents an insightful explanation of the invisible history all around us. He conveys the essential facts in a riveting and engaging manner that everyone, including the nonscientist, will find exceptionally interesting and revealing.”
Michael C. Thomsett, author of The Inquisition
“Germs, Genes & Civilization is a fascinating and well-balanced account of how a wide variety of different kinds of microbes have influenced human evolution, culture, society, and even religious thought. Written for a lay audience, the relationships between genes and disease resistance and susceptibility are clearly discussed, and the book concludes with a sober assessment of what may be in store for us in the future.”
Irwin W. Sherman, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Riverside, and author of Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World and The Power of Plagues
The Stunning Hidden Interconnections Between Microbes and Humanity
AD 452: Attila the Hun stands ready to sack Rome. No one can stop himbut he walks away. A miracle? No...dysentery. Microbes saved the Roman Empire. Nearly a millennium later, the microbes of the Black Death ended the Middle Ages, making possible the Renaissance, western democracy, and the scientific revolution. Soon after, microbes ravaged the Americas, paving the way for their European conquest.
Again and again, microbes have shaped our health, our genetics, our history, our culture, our politics, even our religion and ethics. This book reveals much that scientists and cultural historians have learned about the pervasive interconnections between infectious microbes and humans. It also considers what our ongoing fundamental relationship with infectious microbes might mean for the future of the human species.
The “good side” of history’s worst epidemics
The surprising debt we owe to killer diseases
Where diseases came from...
...and where they may be going
Children of pestilence: disease and civilization
From Egypt to Mexico, from Rome to China
STDs, sexual behavior, and culture
How microbes can shape cultural cycles of puritanism and promiscuity
Clark (Molecular Biology Made Simple and Fun) argues that microscopic bacteria, viruses, and fungi have played an enormous and largely unacknowledged role in human history. Beginning with Attila's attack of Rome, which was likely stopped by dysentery, and continuing through modern diseases such as AIDS and the Ebola virus, Clark investigates a large number of illnesses and uncovers the ways in which they have impacted historical events. The same genes that provide humanity with protection against some endemic diseases, Clark argues, may also cause sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. With wit and humor, the author turns death, an ever-heavy topic, into an engrossing exploration of the course of mankind. Though Clark's lack of references will make it difficult for readers to gain additional information, there's much of interest in this chronicle of microbes through the ages. (Jun.)