counter Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, Which, After Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals With the Life History of Typhus Fever - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, Which, After Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals With the Life History of Typhus Fever

Availability: Ready to download

The classic chronicle of the impact disease and plagues have had on history and society over the past half-millennium. Intriguingly fascinating and entertaining reading for anyone who is interested in how society copes with catastrophe and pain. Relevant today in face of the worldwide medical calamity of AIDS. Continuously in print since its first publication in 1934, with The classic chronicle of the impact disease and plagues have had on history and society over the past half-millennium. Intriguingly fascinating and entertaining reading for anyone who is interested in how society copes with catastrophe and pain. Relevant today in face of the worldwide medical calamity of AIDS. Continuously in print since its first publication in 1934, with over 75 printings.


Compare

The classic chronicle of the impact disease and plagues have had on history and society over the past half-millennium. Intriguingly fascinating and entertaining reading for anyone who is interested in how society copes with catastrophe and pain. Relevant today in face of the worldwide medical calamity of AIDS. Continuously in print since its first publication in 1934, with The classic chronicle of the impact disease and plagues have had on history and society over the past half-millennium. Intriguingly fascinating and entertaining reading for anyone who is interested in how society copes with catastrophe and pain. Relevant today in face of the worldwide medical calamity of AIDS. Continuously in print since its first publication in 1934, with over 75 printings.

30 review for Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, Which, After Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals With the Life History of Typhus Fever

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alexia

    I am absolutely stumped on how to review this book. I love medical histories, so when I saw this at a used bookstore I picked it up. This book is about everything BUT typhus. Religion, history, mathematics, politics--if it's a subject completely unrelated to typhus it's most certainly in there. So I should just give it one star and move on with my life, right? I wish it were that easy, because this book was hilarious. So off-topic, but the author is aware of how off-topic he is, "This, we promise, I am absolutely stumped on how to review this book. I love medical histories, so when I saw this at a used bookstore I picked it up. This book is about everything BUT typhus. Religion, history, mathematics, politics--if it's a subject completely unrelated to typhus it's most certainly in there. So I should just give it one star and move on with my life, right? I wish it were that easy, because this book was hilarious. So off-topic, but the author is aware of how off-topic he is, "This, we promise, is the last serious digression from our main theme" (It is not) At multiple points, he feels that so much extraneous matter is related to his subject that he just starts giving a list of random historical events with no explanation of their connection. The topic of typhus isn't truly brought up until page 212, and doesn't really start being addressed until page 229. This, to me, is hilarious. I started this book in a serious mood, expecting to be informed about the progression and history of a serious disease. Instead, I was caught off guard by all this randomness and burst out laughing. 2 stars then? 5? 1? Let's go with 4. Sure! It's a star number I picked randomly, and that should fit considering the random nature of this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Rats, Lice and History is written in an entertaining conversational style with with enough scholarly flourishes that you'll want your computer by your side to look up words and translate all the French, German and Spanish quotes. (Generally the Greek and Latin are translated or explained.) The author manages to weave in a wide range of historical musings along with up to date science (for the publication date of 1934). The description of how "new" diseases arise is as true for AIDS as for typhus. Rats, Lice and History is written in an entertaining conversational style with with enough scholarly flourishes that you'll want your computer by your side to look up words and translate all the French, German and Spanish quotes. (Generally the Greek and Latin are translated or explained.) The author manages to weave in a wide range of historical musings along with up to date science (for the publication date of 1934). The description of how "new" diseases arise is as true for AIDS as for typhus. I found my copy of the book at the University of Oregon Science library. I really enjoyed the physical book. The bookplate for Vandevelde inside the cover, the obituaries for Dr. Zinsser pasted into the front and back of the book,the worn cover, and the pencil underlines all connected me to others who had read this exact same physical book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Printable Tire

    I salvaged an old paperback copy of this book from the library's garbage bin one day when I was walking around with a very bad cold. It seemed like an appropriate thing to read, as it had to deal with sickness and it was the kind of boring subject that is pleasant to read when one is stuck in bed and going nowhere. It's a very strange, funny book- a shaggy dog with fleas. The first several or so chapters are a defense for why a doctor should be able to write a work of literature. Dr. Zinsser call I salvaged an old paperback copy of this book from the library's garbage bin one day when I was walking around with a very bad cold. It seemed like an appropriate thing to read, as it had to deal with sickness and it was the kind of boring subject that is pleasant to read when one is stuck in bed and going nowhere. It's a very strange, funny book- a shaggy dog with fleas. The first several or so chapters are a defense for why a doctor should be able to write a work of literature. Dr. Zinsser calls science an art and goes on to quote much Gertude Stein in order to hold it up to ridicule. The next quarter or even more is then dedicated to wars and disease and destruction from the dawn of civilization onward. It would be an almost unbearably boring and depressing list if Dr. Zinsser didn't have such a sardonic wit and charm to him. He is both cynical of humanity and full of deep humanity, and because of this and his style he is reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut. Dr. Zinsser wrote this book before World War II, and his thoughts on the buildup of that war are heartbreaking. He convincingly argues that most wars in history have had more fatalities due to disease than those caused on the battlefield, and that many famous battles and wars were dramatically changed due to the influence of diseases. The next sections deal with lice, and mice and rats- and these are some of his funniest observations. Concerning the sex-life of the louse, Dr. Zinsser writes, "Nature has provided that the nymph- that is, what may be called the high-school or flapper age of the louse- is not yet possessed of sexual organs. These do not appear until the fully adult form develops, and reproduction is thus postponed until a responsible age is reached. Adolescent Bohemianism, 'living oneself out,' 'self-expression,' and so forth, never get beyond the D.H. Lawrence stage among the younger set. How much physical hardship and moral confusion could be avoided if a similar arrangement among us could postpone sexual maturity until stimulated by an internal secretion from the fully established intellectual and moral convulsions of the brain! The loss of copy this would entail for Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and others would be amply compensated for by gains in other directions." (134) Again, writing about rats: "Neither rat nor man has achieved social, commercial, or economic stability. This has been, either perfect or to some extent, achieved by ants and by bees, by some birds, and by some of the fishes in the sea. Man and the rat are merely, so far, the most successful animals of prey. They are utterly destructive of other forms of life. Neither of them is the slightest earthly use to any other species of living things. Bacteria nourish plans; plants nourish man and beast. Insects, in their well-organized societies, are destructive of one form of living creature, but helpful to another. Most other animals are content to lead peaceful and adjusted lives, rejoicing in vigor, grateful for this gift of living, and doing the minimum of injury to obtain the things they require. Man and the rat are utterly destructive. All that nature offers is taken for their own purposes, plant or beast." (154-155) Finally, on page 173 of a 228-page book, Dr. Zinsser broaches the topic of typhus. It is very clear (he even says it) that Dr. Zinsser was inspired by Tristram Shandy in writing his rambling, preambling "biography" of typhus, digging out interesting but unrelated topics when they interest him, burrowing around history for the first signs of its existence. It's a bumpy but no less enjoyable ride for being so, and in its casual, layman's way seems ahead of its time. The only faults I had with it are there are sometimes no translations of long passages in another language (perhaps the average reading public knew more languages than I do back then) and it can be quite repetitive, though pleasantly repetitive, and the chronological order of events is totally bananas (Dr. Zinsser will talk about the Dark Ages and plague then go back and talk about diseases in ancient Greece.) Also, I'm not entirely sure what typhus is, or if it's even around anymore. But still, as a science book on a topic I usually show no interest in, it is a fascinating, intelligent, and well-written book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    Even though this book was written at the turn of the previous century, it hasn't become any less interesting or funny. Hans Zinsser has created an eccentric view of history, rambling about rats, typhus, the Roman Empire, lice, and everything. You can't read it in one sitting, because you'll have to keep taking breaks to calm down from the experience. I liked the book because because I learned so much - this book is a classic microbiology textbook among other things. My favorite foonote was assoc Even though this book was written at the turn of the previous century, it hasn't become any less interesting or funny. Hans Zinsser has created an eccentric view of history, rambling about rats, typhus, the Roman Empire, lice, and everything. You can't read it in one sitting, because you'll have to keep taking breaks to calm down from the experience. I liked the book because because I learned so much - this book is a classic microbiology textbook among other things. My favorite foonote was associated with a word I'd never heard -- it said, "If the reader does not know the meaning of this word, that is unfortunate." That gives you an inkling of what is in store for you if you choose to read this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick Davies

    Very interesting content, but because of the writing style it was somewhat tough going. Nevertheless, this book represents a curious look at the history of infectious disease and public health. Some parts were unintentionally funny - the Philistines beating the Jewish in an ancient war by getting their Gods to strike the Jews down with a plague. But not a plague of pestilance or dysentry, oh no. Historians believe it was a epidemic of haemorrhoids.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    Contains the best footnote ever: "If the reader does not understand the meaning of this word, that is too bad" Contains the best footnote ever: "If the reader does not understand the meaning of this word, that is too bad"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    This classic of popular science has just had a welcome reissue. I say popular science, but Hans Zinsser regularly claims his book is nothing of the sort, as 'we detest and have endeavoured to avoid [popular science]'. (The use of the royal 'we' is another of Zinsser's foibles.) Yet popular science it certainly is - his attempt to avoid the label seems to be because it was somewhat despised as a type of writing by academics in the 1930s when this book was written - and Zinsser wanted to make this This classic of popular science has just had a welcome reissue. I say popular science, but Hans Zinsser regularly claims his book is nothing of the sort, as 'we detest and have endeavoured to avoid [popular science]'. (The use of the royal 'we' is another of Zinsser's foibles.) Yet popular science it certainly is - his attempt to avoid the label seems to be because it was somewhat despised as a type of writing by academics in the 1930s when this book was written - and Zinsser wanted to make this more personal than popular science tended to be back then, hence his instance that the book was a 'biography' of the disease typhus. Such is Zinsser's enthusiasm to underline this more arty, biographical approach, he spends the first couple of chapters not talking about typhus, but rather the range of the arts and sciences, their relationship and the point of biography. If you are interested in these topics (as I am) this is interesting and amusing (in part because of Zinsser's very obvious attempt to demonstrate his own breadth of interest and knowledge), if not what you'd expect in a book like this. More surprisingly still, perhaps, it's not until chapter 13 that we really meet the disease typhus. Along the way, Zinsser teases us with little details, but then puts off the main topic as he dives into, for example, the natural history of the two main vectors of typhus, rats and lice. Finally, though, we do get a grounding in the nature of this unpleasant killer - as far as was possible, considering that a virus like typhus was too small to be seen under the microscopes of the day. How you find this book will depend to an extent how you cope with Zinsser's whimsical and eccentric approach. I found the first 12 chapters more interesting than those on the disease itself (partly because of an aversion to things medical), but there's no doubt that his writing can still be amusing and interesting. You wouldn't read it as you might a modern equivalent to get the latest science - but you will certainly find out a lot about typhus and the conditions (including the wars and living conditions) that made it possible for it to exist and thrive in human hosts.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    An appropriate book to read during our current virus crisis. And what else is there to do during my self inforced social distancing BUT READ READ READ

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    c 1935 I have Pocket Book edition August 1945 "This is a wartime book...in compliance with the government's regulations for conserving paper..." When Renee saw this little book on my bookshelves she was rather excited. Had read it long ago and wanted to get reacquainted. Indeed he writes amusingly. A very personal style [except referring to himself as WE]. The technical details got a little too complicated for me, but his point that diseases have killed many more soldiers than guns is made very well c 1935 I have Pocket Book edition August 1945 "This is a wartime book...in compliance with the government's regulations for conserving paper..." When Renee saw this little book on my bookshelves she was rather excited. Had read it long ago and wanted to get reacquainted. Indeed he writes amusingly. A very personal style [except referring to himself as WE]. The technical details got a little too complicated for me, but his point that diseases have killed many more soldiers than guns is made very well. A lot of interesting historical examples. He has respect for Russia and for Russian scientists. 235: "There are no words to record the dreadful sufferings of the Russian people from 1917 to 1921. We are concerned with TYPHUS ALONE. From the careful and conservative calculations of Tarassewitch, it is likely that, during these years, there were no less, and probably more, than 25 million cases of typhus in the territories controlled by the Soviet Republic, with from 2 1/2 to 3 million deaths." 210 "1566 - Vienna suffered the most severe typhus outbreak of its history. Ever since that time typhus has remained ENDEMIC in Hungary, the Balkan states, and the adjoining territories of Poland and Russia. These are still, at the present day, the HOME STATIONS from which modern European epidemics take origin." 229 "It is a curious and heartening fact that international cooperation in the prevention of epidemics placidly continues, however hostile or competitive other relationship may become. Now [1935] -- while the world is an armed camp of suspicion and hatred, and nations are doing their best to push each other out of world markets, to foment revolutions and steal each other's military secrets -- organized government agencies are exchanging information concerning epidemic diseases; bacteriologists, epidemiologists and health administrators are consulting each other and freely interchanging views, materials, and methods, from Russia to South America... It is perhaps not generally known that for several years, during the most turbulent period of the Russian Revolution, the **only** official relationship which existed between that unfortunate country and the rest of Europe consisted in the interchange of information bearing on the prevention of epidemic disease, arranged in cooperation by the Health Commission of the League of Nations and the Soviet government." 157 "From the point of view of all other living creatures, the [brown, now common] rat is an unmitigated nuisance and pest. There is nothing that can be said in its favor. It can live anywhere and eat anything. It burrows for itself when it has to, but when it can it takes over the habitations of other animals, such as rabbits, and kills them and their young. It climbs and it swims. It carries diseases of man and animals -- plague, typhus, tichinella spiralis, rat-bite fever, infectious jaundice... Its destructiveness is almost unlimited...Man and the rat will always be pitted against each other as implacable enemies. And the rat's most potent weapons against mankind have been its perpetual maintenance of the infectious agents of plague and of typhus fever." 162 "Neither rat nor man has achieved social, commercial or economic stability. This has been achieved by ants and by bees, by some birds, and some fishes. Man and the rat are merely, so far, the most successful *animals of prey*. They are utterly destructive of other forms of life. Neither of them is of the slightest earthly use to any other species of living thing....Man and the rat are utterly destructive. All that nature offers is taken for their own purposes, plant or beast." 146 "The louse will never be completely exterminated, and there will always be occasions when it will spread widely to large sections of even the most sanitated populations. And as long as it exists, the possibility of typhus epidemics remains."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Inder

    Thanks to Happyreader, I realized my review of this book is associated with a totally obscure and out-of-print edition. So that no one will ever actually see my review, and I can't easily compare mine with others'. Since I really, really love this book, I'm moving my review. _____________________________ A must read for anyone interested in biology, or science, or language, or good writing, or life in general, this is one of my all-time favorites. After many non-sequitors about a variety of topics Thanks to Happyreader, I realized my review of this book is associated with a totally obscure and out-of-print edition. So that no one will ever actually see my review, and I can't easily compare mine with others'. Since I really, really love this book, I'm moving my review. _____________________________ A must read for anyone interested in biology, or science, or language, or good writing, or life in general, this is one of my all-time favorites. After many non-sequitors about a variety of topics, the author finally gets around to explaining, in engaging, lucid detail, why human history is actually the history of bacterias, viruses, fleas, lice, and, yes, the occasional rat. This is the precurser to "Guns, Germs, and Steel," but it's funnier. But beware, the first couple of chapters are very weird. Don't give up! This book made me want to become an epidemiologist. It's still one of my back-up plans.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Best biology book I ever read. Beautiful, ornate style that reminds me of Swift and Defoe. Fascinating details. Nero Wolf was caught reading it once when he was away from the Orchid rooms, which is a recommendation in itself. The idea of a disease as being like a single organism that spans space and time in a single body and has always been with us is irresistible. I keep up with developments in microbiology as a hobby, although I don't normally do hobbies which are usually associated with pasti Best biology book I ever read. Beautiful, ornate style that reminds me of Swift and Defoe. Fascinating details. Nero Wolf was caught reading it once when he was away from the Orchid rooms, which is a recommendation in itself. The idea of a disease as being like a single organism that spans space and time in a single body and has always been with us is irresistible. I keep up with developments in microbiology as a hobby, although I don't normally do hobbies which are usually associated with pastimes such as chess, knitting and cookery...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dina

    What an excellent book. Didn't expect to enjoy it so much. It's fascinating how human history including the destruction and creation of great civilizations was influenced by epidemics of infectious diseases. Its also fascinating how far back in history those diseases persisted in influencing the events in human history. Entertaining and fascinating read. What an excellent book. Didn't expect to enjoy it so much. It's fascinating how human history including the destruction and creation of great civilizations was influenced by epidemics of infectious diseases. Its also fascinating how far back in history those diseases persisted in influencing the events in human history. Entertaining and fascinating read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    An unusual and fascinating read. Discovered this early edition amongst my husband's old finds from library sales. Written in an interesting style, lots of details, but not too scientific. Loved the Author's viewpoints on life written from a perspective just after World War I. Many of his observations would still be relevant today. Thank G for good sanitation and sanitation engineers! An unusual and fascinating read. Discovered this early edition amongst my husband's old finds from library sales. Written in an interesting style, lots of details, but not too scientific. Loved the Author's viewpoints on life written from a perspective just after World War I. Many of his observations would still be relevant today. Thank G for good sanitation and sanitation engineers!

  14. 5 out of 5

    kubby

    got this on my table at the studio for when i need a break; picked it up at the hart library for a buck!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Reilly

    This book was originally published in 1934.The edition I read was not the one pictured above. I read a Bantam Classic paperback that sold for 50 cents when it was published in 1960. I picked it up as a second hand book years ago. This seemed like a good time to finally read a book with the wonderful subtitle above. Zinnsser takes advantage of typhus fever to indulge in a leisurely walk around the history of man and disease with multiple digressions to look at whatever interests him. The big story This book was originally published in 1934.The edition I read was not the one pictured above. I read a Bantam Classic paperback that sold for 50 cents when it was published in 1960. I picked it up as a second hand book years ago. This seemed like a good time to finally read a book with the wonderful subtitle above. Zinnsser takes advantage of typhus fever to indulge in a leisurely walk around the history of man and disease with multiple digressions to look at whatever interests him. The big story he tells is the overwhelming effect of disease on human history. He concludes his section on the effect of disease on wars by explaining; "Soldiers have rarely won wars. They only mop up after the barrage of epidemics...The epidemics get the blame for defeat and generals the credit for victory. It ought to be the other way around." One of the great pleasures of the book is the casual asides he drops. "Most scholars agree that there is no reliable mention of rats- as such- in classical literature.". He ends a learned note on the "long cyclic swings of history" by asking, in 1934,"Does Mr. Roosevelt and his brain trusters realize this?" Another footnote to the word "saprophyte" reads, "If the reader does not understand this word, too bad." Underneath all of the fun about deadly epidemics, Zinnsser emphasizes the exact same lessons we are re-learning now. Diseases are very clever. Herd immunity is a horrific approach. Epidemics bring out the best and worst in people. Epidemics feed fear of outsiders. The real progress in fighting epidemics is made by scientist. He takes most of the book to finally get to typhus. When he gets there it becomes clear that typhus is a fascinating disease that travels back and forth between rats, mice, mammals and men. This is a civilized, worldly, slightly cynical book. It is hard to picture this kind of book being written today.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julien

    Written in 1935 by a highly regarded Harvard biologist who had never before published on history, this book is nominally a "biography" of Typhus Fever throughout history. What the book actually contains is a wildly eclectic and off-topic mix of philosophy, sociology, history of science, art, religion, and politics, written with a wry sense of self-deprecating humor that transcends most non-fiction. I've never had a footnote cause me to burst out laughing before. Something like 1/3 each of Yuval N Written in 1935 by a highly regarded Harvard biologist who had never before published on history, this book is nominally a "biography" of Typhus Fever throughout history. What the book actually contains is a wildly eclectic and off-topic mix of philosophy, sociology, history of science, art, religion, and politics, written with a wry sense of self-deprecating humor that transcends most non-fiction. I've never had a footnote cause me to burst out laughing before. Something like 1/3 each of Yuval Noah Harari, Terry Pratchett, and Hunter S. Thompson. This book will delight and inform you. From the preface: This book is a protest against the American attitude which tends to insist that a specialist should have no interests beyond his chosen field -- unless it be golf, fishing, or contract bridge. A specialist-- in our national view-- should stick to his job like "a louse on a pig's back." We risk-- because of this performance-- being thought less of as a bacteriologist. It is worth the risk. But the day has twenty-four hours; one can work but ten and sleep but eight. We hold that one type of intelligent occupation should, in all but exceptional cases, increase the capacity for comprehension in general; that it is an error to segregate the minds of men into rigid guild classifications; and that art and sciences have much in common and both may profit by mutual appraisal. The Europeans have long appreciated this. That our book has contributed in this respect we have not the temerity to assert. At any rate, we have written along as it has suited our fancy, and have been amused and rested in so doing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    Given the state of affairs, especially now in 2020, this book is a must read. If anything, you'll appreciate even more the battle we've fought against germs and pestilence throughout our history. We obviously aren't even close to winning the war, yet. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague) are part of the story the author tells, and how we've arrived here since this book was originally written, in 1935, is yet another chapter in this epic tale of the struggl Given the state of affairs, especially now in 2020, this book is a must read. If anything, you'll appreciate even more the battle we've fought against germs and pestilence throughout our history. We obviously aren't even close to winning the war, yet. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague) are part of the story the author tells, and how we've arrived here since this book was originally written, in 1935, is yet another chapter in this epic tale of the struggle to survive. Well written, funny, and with more random details, asides, and snarky comments than you can shake a stick at, this "biography" of typhus gives us mortal humans pause for thought and a good reason to entertain the idea that, in the end, it might not be all about us.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    Published in 1944, Zinsser leads you through his avenues of interest (research) in hunt of an understanding of Typhus - he christens the endeavor a biography. Splendid. This is the style of book I want to read (well, minus the side comments on the worth of women and other races/ethnicities). --- Chapter X: More about the louse: the need for this chapter will be apparent to those who have entered into the spirit of this biography Typhus is not dead. It will live on for centuries, and it will continu Published in 1944, Zinsser leads you through his avenues of interest (research) in hunt of an understanding of Typhus - he christens the endeavor a biography. Splendid. This is the style of book I want to read (well, minus the side comments on the worth of women and other races/ethnicities). --- Chapter X: More about the louse: the need for this chapter will be apparent to those who have entered into the spirit of this biography Typhus is not dead. It will live on for centuries, and it will continue to break into the open whenever human stupidity and brutality give it a chance.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    I read this book in college in a course called Disease in History. I can’t help but think of the course and the book in the current pandemic. I keep thinking how could our governments worldwide not know what can happen when a disease with no immunity explodes. History tells us. It has been so clear to me from the start, that it is startling. My knowledge comes from education. Our leaders need to ask the experts not rely their gut feelings.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Victor Sonkin

    This is a very famous and much-lauded book; I was very anxious about finally reading it. Well, it does not deliver. Its beginning does not make any sense at all; it has not aged gracefully; the biological nature of typhus (which is actually the subject of the book) is left rather unclear; all that from a scientist who was a major figure in typhus studies, responsible for identifying one of its types! A necessary classic, yes, but that's it. This is a very famous and much-lauded book; I was very anxious about finally reading it. Well, it does not deliver. Its beginning does not make any sense at all; it has not aged gracefully; the biological nature of typhus (which is actually the subject of the book) is left rather unclear; all that from a scientist who was a major figure in typhus studies, responsible for identifying one of its types! A necessary classic, yes, but that's it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Peter Kavanagh

    Highly discursive and frequently amusing medical history of Typus fever. Written in the 1930's so it has dated in some ways but that in itself can be fascinating. Deeply engaging, often hilarious footnotes where the author scolds himself for wandering off topic and full of incisive insights. Highly discursive and frequently amusing medical history of Typus fever. Written in the 1930's so it has dated in some ways but that in itself can be fascinating. Deeply engaging, often hilarious footnotes where the author scolds himself for wandering off topic and full of incisive insights.

  22. 4 out of 5

    April Grunspan

    Even though this book deals with typhus, and was written in 1934, it's still relevant to the Covid 19 situation today. Great read about viruses, virulence, biology, and their effect on humanity and human history. Even though this book deals with typhus, and was written in 1934, it's still relevant to the Covid 19 situation today. Great read about viruses, virulence, biology, and their effect on humanity and human history.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Flutlicht

    A humbling perspective on humankind. How many wars have been decided by pests, not by generals? How many lice can hide under a monk's frock? A must read to understand how basic hygiene affects human life. A humbling perspective on humankind. How many wars have been decided by pests, not by generals? How many lice can hide under a monk's frock? A must read to understand how basic hygiene affects human life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

    An excellent Essay. The author's style of writing and comments on current events are intriguing. (circa 1930) An excellent Essay. The author's style of writing and comments on current events are intriguing. (circa 1930)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I read this when I was in high school, and it influenced my thinking and choices later.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    Call me morbid, but I love to read about diseases in history. And this book is a good one.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristin E

    One of my favorite books of all time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    "... we hesitate to call so rambling a performance a book ..." p. vii "... we hesitate to call so rambling a performance a book ..." p. vii

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Anderson

    Fabulous work, very relevant and Gives perspective on Epidemics past and present

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Brady

    Rats, Lice, and History, by Hans Zinsser, is a hoot! Hans Zinsser - physician, scientist, war hero, and author - wrote a book in 1934, which he titled, with mock yet informative pretension: Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, which, after Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals with the Life History of Typhus Fever, Also known, at various stages of its Adventurous Career, as Morbus pulicaris (Cardanus, 1545); Tabardiglio y puntos (De Rats, Lice, and History, by Hans Zinsser, is a hoot! Hans Zinsser - physician, scientist, war hero, and author - wrote a book in 1934, which he titled, with mock yet informative pretension: Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, which, after Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals with the Life History of Typhus Fever, Also known, at various stages of its Adventurous Career, as Morbus pulicaris (Cardanus, 1545); Tabardiglio y puntos (De Toro, 1574); Pintas; Febris purpurea epidemica (Coyttarus, 1578); Febris quam lenticulas vel punticulas vocant (Fracastorious, 1546); Morbus hungaricus; La Poupre: Piperconr: Febris petechialis vera; Febris maligna pestilens; Febris putrida et maligna; Typhus carcerorum; Jayl Fever; Fievre des hospitaux; Pestis bellica; Morbus castrensis; Famine Fever; Irish Ague; Typhus exanthematicus; Faulfieber; Hauptkrankheit; Pestartige Braune; Exanthematishces Nervenfieber, and so forth, and so forth. Any popular book on natural history that starts by skewering the news media, the literary establish, and social convention is going to be great fun to read. Before engaging his topic he takes much time to explain the philosophy of science, the history of epidemiology, and microbiology as it was understood at the time. Awarded many honors for his brave and selfless service as a military doctor working in the trenches of WWI, Zinsser makes much of the impact typhus and other diseases have had on military campaigns across history. Throughout this informative book's text, footnotes, chapter subtitles,and myriad discursions, Zinsser applies wickedly pointed turns of phrase to criticize political fashions, military misadventure, and cultural norms. This classic was well-received in its day and is still regarded as an important treatise. Rats, Lice, and History should be read by anyone who is interested in history, biology, or literature.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.