Deadly Companions: How microbes shaped our history (Oxford Landmark Science)

ISBN : 9780198815440

Dorothy H. Crawford
288 ページ
129 x 196 mm

Combining tales of devastating epidemics with accessible science and fascinating history, Deadly Companions reveals how closely microbes have evolved with us over the millennia, shaping human civilization.

  • A fascinating insight into human cultural history, and how closely it has been influenced at every step by microbes, our deadly companions
  • Explains the biology and life-stories of microbes such as smallpox, flu, malaria, HIV, and MRSA, and why they have evolved to be so effective
  • This new edition includes consideration of the recent Ebola and Zika epidemics, and updated case studies and statistics
  • Includes stories of devastation wrought by epidemics and pandemics, and examines controversies over the real cause of the black death
  • Reveals how microbes may have forced the exodus of early man from Africa
  • Part of the Oxford Landmark Science range: 'must-read' modern science and big ideas, which have shaped the way we think

Ever since we started huddling together in communities, the story of human history has been inextricably entwined with the story of microbes. They have evolved and spread amongst us, shaping our culture through infection, disease, and pandemic. At the same time, our changing human culture has itself influenced the evolutionary path of microbes. Dorothy H. Crawford here shows that one cannot be truly understood without the other. 

Beginning with a dramatic account of the SARS pandemic at the start of the 21st century, she takes us back in time to follow the interlinked history of microbes and man, taking an up-to-date look at ancient plagues and epidemics, and identifying key changes in the way humans have lived - such as our move from hunter-gatherer to farmer to city-dweller — which made us vulnerable to microbe attack. 

Showing how we live our lives today — with increasing crowding and air travel — puts us once again at risk, Crawford asks whether we might ever conquer microbes completely, or whether we need to take a more microbe-centric view of the world. Among the possible answers, one thing becomes clear: that for generations to come, our deadly companions will continue to shape human history.

Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.
"Admirably clear and engaging." - BBC History


1: How It All Began
2: Our Microbial Inheritance
3: Microbes Jump Species
4: Crowds, Filth, and Poverty
5: Microbes Go Global
6: Famine and Devastation
7: Deadly Companions Revealed
8: The Fight Back
Conclusion: Living Together
Notes and References


Dorothy H. Crawford, Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology, University of Edinburgh
Dorothy H Crawford was Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Edinburgh from 1997-2010 and Assistant Principal for Public Understanding of Medicine from 2005-2011. She was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2001 and received an OBE for services to medicine and higher education in 2005. She is the author of The Invisible Enemy (OUP, 2000); Virus Hunt(OUP, 2013); Viruses: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2011); and Ebola (OUP, 2016)