Product review for The Life and Death of Smallpox
"The most terrible of all the ministers of death." Thomas Macauley Mozart, Voltaire, Elizabeth I and Abraham Lincoln all had it–and survived. Millions did not. The scourge of smallpox affected rich and poor alike, killing many and disfiguring the rest. 'Cures' included bleeding, purging, oil of scorpions and even crabs' eyes. Edward Jenner's breakthrough in 1796 started the slow, often controversial, process of controlling the virus. By 1979 smallpox had become the first-ever disease to be eradicated. Yet, today, its possible use in biological warfare presents a major threat. This is an accessible account of the history, and possible future, of a terrifying disease. Ian Glynn is Professor of Physiology Emeritus at Cambridge University and Fellow of Trinity College. He is the author of An Anatomy of Thought (Oxford, 2000). Jenifer Glynn is a Cambridge historian and author of Tidings from Zion (Tauris, 2000).