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Pandemic Obsession (Hardback)

How They Feature in our Popular Culture

P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Literary Figures P&S History > Social History

By Stephen Basdeo
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 35 mono
ISBN: 9781399092210
Published: 16th January 2023



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“Pestilence entered … The ordinary pursuits of society were paralysed; all previously-formed plans of happiness, business, trade, occupation, and domestic arrangement, were checked as cruelly and abruptly as if every principle of the human mind were in a moment subverted … The physicians saw that human aid was vain, and that destruction inevitably awaited all who approached the infected. Terrific mortality! Appalling scourge of the human race!” — George W.M. Reynolds

Throughout history humankind has faced a number of deadly pandemics and such diseases have left their mark in history books, fine art, novels, life writing, and newspapers. This book collects together writings from across the centuries which illuminate people’s experiences with plagues and pandemics. From Ancient Greece there is Thucydides on the Athenian Plague; Procopius gives his account of Plague of Justinian; also included is many more extracts of writings on plagues from medieval and early modern writers. Readers can enjoy several works of fiction including an abridged version of Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826), a reproduction in full of Jack London’s Scarlet Plague (1912), as well as short pandemic stories from Edgar Allan Poe, George W.M. Reynolds, Daniel Defoe, and William Harrison Ainsworth.

A very informative and interesting read.

NetGalley, Laura Fayle

As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, it is interesting to reflect on previous ones and how the human race responded to the challenges. This book looks at different plagues of yore with most emphasis on the Black Death and the Plague of the mid 1600’s. The author uses first hand observations from the time as well as research on the impacts on society as a whole. What makes this even more interesting is the inclusion of several fictional accounts of both the historical pandemics and an imagined end of the world scenario. These are both chilling and prophetic.

It is clear humanity has not travelled far from whence we came when it comes to responding to a crisis. Sadly, in each case, there will always be those who will continue to do as they please whatever the consequences may be to others around them. Their cavalier attitudes spread the contagion and prolong the effects when they might have been able to restrict it in the early stages. No one likes their freedoms to be restricted but sometimes it is the only way to deny oxygen to a pandemic.

Very interesting book and well worth a look. Four purrs and two paws up.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

"This book is a brief anthology of fictional accounts of the plagues of the past, written by a variety of authors over the last 800 years. It provides a literary chronicle and insights into plagues and pandemics and helps put the recent COVID-19 pandemic into historical perspective."

Read the review here

Dr Arpan Banerjee - Hektoen International Journal

A quite interesting book certainly one to make you think and consider.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

This book was actually pretty good!! It kept my interest throughout the book. I honestly didn’t think it would but it did. For some reason I was hooked and didn’t wanted to put it down.

NetGalley, Kara C

A collection of stories about pandemics into history. It was an interesting and informative read.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

A good collection of pandemic stories, very interesting after the last couple of years we have experienced. I now have a list of stories I would like to read further and gain more insight into.

A great read which I will delve into again in the future!

NetGalley, Toni Wade

This was fascinating. A collection of stories and essays on the topic of plague. Probably best to be read in small doses, with more cheerful subject matter in between. Great to dip into.

NetGalley, Karen Hammond

Honestly - who can see Pandemic Obsession and not be just a tiny bit curious given the past few years we all lived through. This is a heavy and very detailed read in which pandemics of all kinds - real and fictional - are explored. I personally never realized that we have so much pandemic related stuff in popular culture, so that was a fun thing for me to learn. I really enjoyed this collection and if the idea of this intrigues you at all, I recommend picking it up.

NetGalley, Kirstyn Yosick

A heavy but interesting read made all the more so by living through the recent pandemic. It was so interesting to see what has changed in terms of medical advancement and ideology as well as societies attitudes to pandemics too.

NetGalley, Aria Harlow

This book is a fascinating collection of various stories and poems detailing plagues that have afflicted humanity throughout hundreds of years.
The works are by various writers including Shelley and Poe, showcasing the harrowing and gruesome affects on communities as disease spread.

It’s a well researched collection and gave me a list of works I’d like to explore more.

NetGalley, Cheryl Purnell

About Stephen Basdeo

Stephen Basdeo is a historian and the author of several history books and academic journal articles. He has also co-edited and published transcriptions of primary sources for academic publishers.

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