Smallpox, the only infectious disease to have been eradicated, was one of the most terrifying of human scourges. It covered the skin with hideous, painful boils, killed a third of its victims, and left the survivors disfigured for life. In this riveting, often terrifying look at the history of smallpox, Jonathan B. Tucker tells the story of this deadly disease, the heroic efforts to eradicate it worldwide, and the looming dangers it still poses today. Beginning in the sixteenth century, smallpox afflicted rich and poor alike, repeatedly altering the course of human history. No vaccine existed until 1796, and even then it remained a major cause of death in the developing world. Finally, in 1967, the World Health Organization launched an intensified global campaign to eradicate smallpox worldwide. But when it had succeeded, Soviet leaders cynically exploited the world's new vulnerability to smallpox by mass-producing the virus as a strategic weapon. In recent years, concern over the possible return of smallpox has taken an even greater urgency with the realization that clandestine stocks of the virus may still exist.
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by Jonathan London
"The burning fever and painful pustules of smallpox have been with humankind since the beginning of recorded history. The story of its devastating effects on the civilizations of the world and its eradication by the World Health Organization several years ago hails a milestone of science. Aside from his butchery of the Spanish language as he describes Cortez's invasion of Mexico, Patrick Cullen's reserved inflection suits the didactic text, and his scientific pronunciation is exact. The relevance of this now "dead disease" to today's reality comes in the last portion of the audiobook, which relates to the use of the virus as a biological weapon by introducing genetically engineered strains into unimmunized populations. J.A.H. (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine"
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