Review of Plague-Busters!: Medicine’s Battles with History’s Deadliest Diseases

Plague-Busters!: Medicine’s Battles with History’s Deadliest Diseases Plague-Busters!: Medicine’s Battles with History’s Deadliest Diseases
by Lindsey Fitzharris and Adrian Teal; illus. by Adrian Teal
Intermediate, Middle School    Bloomsbury    176 pp.
10/23    9781547606030    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781547606047    $13.99

Living through a global pandemic has brought epidemiological thinking to the forefront of pop-science. Those who would like to learn about diseases (mostly) defeated by scientific discovery will be fascinated by this volume, which investigates the history of six deadly diseases that caused human suffering for centuries. Despite the serious subject matter, the book’s tone, enhanced by the spot illustrations, is light, allowing readers to delve into the most harrowing descriptions of pain and suffering with enough distance to be more fascinated than horrified. Each chapter focuses on one disease and is preceded by a world map showing the plague’s long reach. Sidebars throughout the main text provide anecdotes about the illness and the individuals who in one way or another contributed to our understanding of it. Each chapter ends with a section spotlighting some of the more famous victims of the disease. Endnotes include an extensive list of sources organized by chapter as well as a detailed index and “further reading for future medical historians,” making this book well-suited for student research. Fans of Albee’s Poison will feel right at home with this darkly comedic piece of nonfiction.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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