Plague, pox and pandemics : A Jacana pocket history of epidemics in South Africa by Phillips, Howard
Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd | 12 May 2012
Paperback | 168 pages
Over the last decades, we have seen more than three dozen new infectious diseases appear, some of which could kill millions of people with one or two unlucky gene mutations or one or two unfavourable environmental changes. The risks of pandemics only increase as the human population grows; therefore to direct our future we should examine our past. Howard Phillips provides the first look into the history of epidemics in South Africa, probing lethal episodes which significantly shaped this society over three centuries. Focusing on devastating diseases such as smallpox, bubonic plague, Spanish influenza, polio and HIV/Aids, Plague, Pox and Pandemics probes their origin, their catastrophic course and their consequences in both the short and long term. Their impact ranges from the demographic to the political, the social, the economic, the spiritual, the psychological and the cultural.
As each of these epidemics occurred at crucial moments in the country's history - early in European colonisation, in the midst of the mineral revolution, during the South African War and World War I, as industrialisation was getting under way, and within the eras of apartheid and post-apartheid - the book also examines how these processes affected and were affected by the five epidemics, thereby adding important dimensions to an understanding of each. To those who read this book, South African history will not look the same again.