Sheds light on the US government’s response to epidemics through history—with larger conclusions about COVID-19 and reforms needed before the next plague

Product Code: 8947
ISBN: 9780807043493
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 272
Published Date: 05/10/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $28.95

In this narrative history of the US through major outbreaks of contagious disease, from yellow fever to the Spanish flu, from HIV/AIDS to Ebola, Polly J. Price examines how law and government affected the outcome of epidemics—and how those outbreaks in turn shaped our government.

Price presents a fascinating history that has never been fully explored and draws larger conclusions about the gaps in our governmental and legal response. Plagues in the Nation examines how our country learned—and failed to learn—how to address the panic, conflict, and chaos that are the companions of contagion, what policies failed America again and again, and what we must do better next time.

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America’s First Plagues

Yellow Fever and the Shotgun Quarantine

Black Death on the West Coast

The 1918 Great Influenza

Confronting Tuberculosis

The Fight Against Polio

The AIDS Epidemic

Ebola in Dallas

A Coronavirus Pandemic

Epilogue: Law for the Next Pandemic

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“An authoritative history of America’s flawed responses to epidemics . . . A vigorous argument for unified public health measures.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Gripping prose and lucid analysis make this an essential study of what needs to change before the next epidemic.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Short, readable, and well documented... [Price] clearly and ably lays out a timetable of disease and the legal and social response to it.” —Booklist

Plagues in the Nation is essential reading if we are to understand the challenges posed by the current COVID pandemic and pandemics to come. A distinguished scholar of law and government, as well as an expert on issues of public health, Polly Price is also a first-rate historian whose description of earlier epidemics and pandemics shows the fundamental flaws in our decentralized public health system and the threat posed by our loss of trust in governmental and scientific institutions.” —Dan Carter, author of Scottsboro and The Politics of Rage

“A masterful book for our times, a must-read for understanding how pandemics shape law, government, and society. Price takes us on a journey through history, ranging from the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 through to modern plagues like HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has divided America and the world, like no pandemic before; Price uses the lens of history and law to offer vital lessons for the future.” —Lawrence O. Gostin, Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law

“All epidemics are different but much can be learned from understanding the past performance of Government and the impact and limits of legally-based policies. Plagues in the Nation explores these issues during past and present epidemics in the United States and provides lessons for Government and citizens to face the future.” —Jim Curran, Dean, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

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