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Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History

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The definitive social history of tuberculosis, from its origins as a haunting mystery to its modern reemergence that now threatens populations around the world. It killed novelist George Orwell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and millions of others – rich and poor. Desmond Tutu, Amitabh Bachchan, and Nelson Mandela survived it, just.  For centuries, tuberculosis has ravaged cities and The definitive social history of tuberculosis, from its origins as a haunting mystery to its modern reemergence that now threatens populations around the world. It killed novelist George Orwell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and millions of others – rich and poor. Desmond Tutu, Amitabh Bachchan, and Nelson Mandela survived it, just.  For centuries, tuberculosis has ravaged cities and plagued the human body.  In  Phantom Plague, Vidya Krishnan, traces the history of tuberculosis from the slums of 19th-century New York to modern Mumbai. In a narrative spanning century, Krishnan shows how superstition and folk-remedies, made way for scientific understanding of TB, such that it was controlled and cured in the West.  The cure was never available to black and brown nations. And the tuberculosis bacillus showed a remarkable ability to adapt – so that at the very moment it could have been extinguished as a threat to humanity, it found a way back, aided by authoritarian government, toxic kindness of philanthropists, science denialism and medical apartheid. Krishnan’s original reporting paints a granular portrait of the post-antibiotic era as a new, aggressive, drug resistant strain of TB takes over. Phantom Plague is an urgent, riveting and fascinating narrative that deftly exposes the weakest links in our battle against this ancient foe. 


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The definitive social history of tuberculosis, from its origins as a haunting mystery to its modern reemergence that now threatens populations around the world. It killed novelist George Orwell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and millions of others – rich and poor. Desmond Tutu, Amitabh Bachchan, and Nelson Mandela survived it, just.  For centuries, tuberculosis has ravaged cities and The definitive social history of tuberculosis, from its origins as a haunting mystery to its modern reemergence that now threatens populations around the world. It killed novelist George Orwell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and millions of others – rich and poor. Desmond Tutu, Amitabh Bachchan, and Nelson Mandela survived it, just.  For centuries, tuberculosis has ravaged cities and plagued the human body.  In  Phantom Plague, Vidya Krishnan, traces the history of tuberculosis from the slums of 19th-century New York to modern Mumbai. In a narrative spanning century, Krishnan shows how superstition and folk-remedies, made way for scientific understanding of TB, such that it was controlled and cured in the West.  The cure was never available to black and brown nations. And the tuberculosis bacillus showed a remarkable ability to adapt – so that at the very moment it could have been extinguished as a threat to humanity, it found a way back, aided by authoritarian government, toxic kindness of philanthropists, science denialism and medical apartheid. Krishnan’s original reporting paints a granular portrait of the post-antibiotic era as a new, aggressive, drug resistant strain of TB takes over. Phantom Plague is an urgent, riveting and fascinating narrative that deftly exposes the weakest links in our battle against this ancient foe. 

30 review for Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I had mixed feelings about this book and if I could, I would rate it 3.5 stars. I feel that the content is important and that it clearly shows existing inequities in healthcare, which would gain it a 5-star rating. While the book focuses on India, its lessons are broadly applicable to the developing world. All this made the book a compelling read. On the other hand, there was not a lot of science in the book and it strayed away from tuberculosis in order for the author to make points about curre I had mixed feelings about this book and if I could, I would rate it 3.5 stars. I feel that the content is important and that it clearly shows existing inequities in healthcare, which would gain it a 5-star rating. While the book focuses on India, its lessons are broadly applicable to the developing world. All this made the book a compelling read. On the other hand, there was not a lot of science in the book and it strayed away from tuberculosis in order for the author to make points about current economic structures. I also did not enjoy the tone of the book which came across as pontificating, so much so that even when I agreed with the content, which was quite frequent, I was still ready to put down the book several times, hence the lower star rating. There are better books on tuberculosis out there, including Catching Breath by Kathryn Lougheed (which I received as an advance reader copy from the publisher). Thank you to Netgalley and PublicAffairs/Bold Type Book for the advance reader copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manish

    Phantom Plague is an important book. . The introductory chapters on Koch, Pasteur and Semmelweis were interesting but suddenly tapered off. I was looking forward to reading about the evolution of the front line antibiotics that became the mainstay of the treatment but Vidya Krishnan never ventures into it. TB being the indirect inspiration for Stoker to create the character of Dracula was something I never knew about. While the book aims to cover the crisis of Tuberculosis, the bulk of it is cen Phantom Plague is an important book. . The introductory chapters on Koch, Pasteur and Semmelweis were interesting but suddenly tapered off. I was looking forward to reading about the evolution of the front line antibiotics that became the mainstay of the treatment but Vidya Krishnan never ventures into it. TB being the indirect inspiration for Stoker to create the character of Dracula was something I never knew about. While the book aims to cover the crisis of Tuberculosis, the bulk of it is centered on the harrowing experiences of patients diagnosed with DR and XDR TB in India (specifically Mumbai - the TB capital of the world). And the book is also a Marxist analysis of the global patent system, a critique of TRIPS and WTO and a scathing indictment of Johnson and Johnson's tactics to safeguard its flagship TB drug bedaquiline.The plan of the present Modi government to eliminate TB in India by 2025 is also portrayed to be a sham and detached from any coherent policy shifts in the bureaucracy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    This was an excellent read, taught me a lot, and changed how I think. Very recommendable book that looks at where medicine should be and what the current issues are in getting there.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    I found this book very interesting and educational. It’s not only about tuberculosis but also about other infectious diseases and the history of hygiene. It shows how mankind can be really greedy and ignorant. And sadly now I learned also about the Tuskegee experiments, another horrible thing humans did which I was not yet aware of.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Edith

    5 stars for importance; 2 1/2 for execution. Ms. Krishnan is not a great writer; the information she retails is jumbled and sometimes repetitive. Fact checking seems to be a little weak: Jane Seymour was not the mother of Elizabeth I, and opinion is not settled as to the cause of Jane Austen's death. It is an esthetically unpleasing book. Angry books often are. However, in my opinion, she is right to be furious, and it's a book that should be read, and widely. This book details the catastrophe t 5 stars for importance; 2 1/2 for execution. Ms. Krishnan is not a great writer; the information she retails is jumbled and sometimes repetitive. Fact checking seems to be a little weak: Jane Seymour was not the mother of Elizabeth I, and opinion is not settled as to the cause of Jane Austen's death. It is an esthetically unpleasing book. Angry books often are. However, in my opinion, she is right to be furious, and it's a book that should be read, and widely. This book details the catastrophe that is global TB care. Even if you did not believe the details Ms. Krishnan provides, a person with any experience in how the goods of the world get apportioned would have guessed how distribution of effective TB treatments would be made. You might not, however, have guessed how completely these drugs are restricted from the poor and resourceless who need them, and how much more freely available they are to those with resources, especially in India, and especially in Mumbai, which appears to be the world capital of TB infection (and drug resistant TB, and multi-drug resistant TB). Ms. Krishnan's indictment of Big Pharma, and the various forms of defending their intellectual property, as these companies fight to preserve their rights in drugs that make them thousands with every course of TB medication (but might be given to patients for much less) resonates particularly well at the moment in history. Her account of their doings, as well as the actions of governments and legal entities, is well worth reading. If not otherwise motivated to do so by common compassion, why should the US and other developed countries care about what is happening in India? Because as life has recently illustrated, bacteria and viruses do not observe international borders. Drug resistant TB will be more than a phantom plague if we do not stop it where it now lives. I hope a better book on this extremely important subject appears; perhaps Ms. Krishnan herself will write it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tony Cundell

    When I read the statement in the book that Jane Seymour was the mother of Elizabeth Tudor, I questioned the accuracy of the book. When I checked the references and found the vast majority were for websites not books, publications, scientific articles, etc it confirmed that the book had a low level of accuracy so was more an opinion piece that a well researched book. Also there was no mention of Waksman discovery of streptomycin. A huge omission.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This eye-opening book is both a fascinating historical count of how tuberculosis has been viewed and treated over the past two centuries and a compelling critique of the societal factors that have led to its burgeoning spread in poorer countries despite the discovery of highly effective treatments. From the desperate slums of Mumbai, where horrifically cruel, sunless buildings breed disease, to the institutions and organizations that consistently fail to recognize the humanity of patients, the p This eye-opening book is both a fascinating historical count of how tuberculosis has been viewed and treated over the past two centuries and a compelling critique of the societal factors that have led to its burgeoning spread in poorer countries despite the discovery of highly effective treatments. From the desperate slums of Mumbai, where horrifically cruel, sunless buildings breed disease, to the institutions and organizations that consistently fail to recognize the humanity of patients, the problem with tuberculosis is shown to be one that is manufactured by our modern way of life. There are plenty of culprits, including the use of charitable organizations to ensure distribution is limited, to the privileges of patent systems that reward hoarding and greed. There is also the systemic racism that underlies the disparities in healthcare between the rich and the poor. While this is a distressing and depressing scenario, the are some glimmers of hope in the activism of TB survivors inspired by the AIDS activism that eventually made AIDS treatment more available to more people. Yet AIDS, which is still severely under-treated in many parts of the world, is part of a “cursed duet” that has spurred TB spread. Tuberculosis is one of the great scourges of our world, and our lack of attention to it is a serious threat to global health. Yet unless we change the social and political factors that continue its spread and under-treatment (and misdiagnosis and mistreatment, rampant in Mumbai), we will never eradicate this persistent and dreadful disease. This book is a wake-up call to change.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    Unfortunately, I dnf'd after noting rather blatant errors within the first 15% of this book. For example, as noted by other reviewers, the author wrote that Jane Seymour, 3rd wife of Henry VIII of England, died after giving birth to Elizabeth I (Jane was Edward VI's mother; the reference the author cited, Biography.com, had its facts straight). She also repeatedly referred to fermentation as the process by which wines go sour. I'm no vintner, but fermentation seems essential to the wine-making p Unfortunately, I dnf'd after noting rather blatant errors within the first 15% of this book. For example, as noted by other reviewers, the author wrote that Jane Seymour, 3rd wife of Henry VIII of England, died after giving birth to Elizabeth I (Jane was Edward VI's mother; the reference the author cited, Biography.com, had its facts straight). She also repeatedly referred to fermentation as the process by which wines go sour. I'm no vintner, but fermentation seems essential to the wine-making process. Anyway, these and other factual errors eroded my trust in her ability to present an accurate account of her topic, and I decided to not waste my time reading further. Perhaps if she and her editors give it a critical overhaul, I'll try again.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Kirchner

    Not the book I was expecting to read As a physician who spent my entire career caring for patients with HIV disease and a strong interest in Infectious diseases including TB this book was literally all over the place, clinically inaccurate at times and was too much of a political diatribe. I am all for global health equity. Will we ever see it - even in the United States. Sadly No. Find a new title for this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    3.5. interesting historical POVs but a little choppy at times.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marcy Graybill

    I am a huge fan of medical history. This begins as such, but then morphs into a diatribe against many governments handling of health care crises and the lack of affordable drugs. Now I agree with most of what she says. I find it disgusting the there are places where the medical systems make a determination of who is worthy of medication. It's historically accurate and it even happens today, but it does not meet my expectation of a medical history. I am a huge fan of medical history. This begins as such, but then morphs into a diatribe against many governments handling of health care crises and the lack of affordable drugs. Now I agree with most of what she says. I find it disgusting the there are places where the medical systems make a determination of who is worthy of medication. It's historically accurate and it even happens today, but it does not meet my expectation of a medical history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karenclifford61

    Maybe 2 stars is too low, but 3 stars seems too high. The book started with very interesting info (see below*) and I looked forward to more. But less than halfway through it went off track (for me) as the saga of Indian victims along with history lessons on why TB "cures" are failing in India finished up the book. OK, perhaps it's useful to discuss the problems of patents, capitalist ideology, communications, physician ignorance...but I lost interest as the book focused on India's problems. Of c Maybe 2 stars is too low, but 3 stars seems too high. The book started with very interesting info (see below*) and I looked forward to more. But less than halfway through it went off track (for me) as the saga of Indian victims along with history lessons on why TB "cures" are failing in India finished up the book. OK, perhaps it's useful to discuss the problems of patents, capitalist ideology, communications, physician ignorance...but I lost interest as the book focused on India's problems. Of course with a global economy emerging, India's TB problem WILL become the world's problem, but I guess I was looking for more of the scary stuff outlined initially than the issues India faces. *Only the lung form of TB is infectious. *in late 1800's/early 1900's US recognized 1 in 7 were dying from TB and infection spread through spittal/phelgm. Curbing spitting became a public policy and was EXTREMELY difficult at first, but eventually led to fashion changes such as: higher heels (to prevent sputum from gathering on women hemline), rising hemlines (to prevent it from coming in the home), shaved faces (beards and mustaches could harbor the bacteria) AND public spittoons! *TB must constantly mutate/evolve in order to survive. It is NOT a virus, but rather a bacteria that has mutated in some to be resistant to anti-bacteria drugs. *If India does not get a grip on it's TB policy, it will become bad news for the rest of the world -- especially with global travel. *In India, only 1 in 3 TB patients are correctly diagnoses and the other (2 of 3) will infect 10-15 people in their lifetime. *The rise of drug resistant TB is growing in India especially due to the high slum population/concentration, high humidity prevents mask use, stigma associated with wearing a mask, ostracized attitudes regarding TB in the community/slums

  13. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Doyle

    What starts as an interesting account of how the disease "shaped history" quickly devolves into a diatribe against western governments, pharmaceutical Co's and capitalism. While there's no question they've all disappointed in providing available resources to the developing world, Covid has made it clear any hope of combating pandemics will necessarily require all three. Choosing to close the book with an account of the hideous but unrelated Tuskegee Experiment, Krishnan missed an opportunity to What starts as an interesting account of how the disease "shaped history" quickly devolves into a diatribe against western governments, pharmaceutical Co's and capitalism. While there's no question they've all disappointed in providing available resources to the developing world, Covid has made it clear any hope of combating pandemics will necessarily require all three. Choosing to close the book with an account of the hideous but unrelated Tuskegee Experiment, Krishnan missed an opportunity to offer her own prescription for how to take on TB in the developing world.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I think a better title for this would be "How History Shaped Tuberculosis" - it was interesting, but talked WAY more about other topics than it did about actual tuberculosis. I think a better title for this would be "How History Shaped Tuberculosis" - it was interesting, but talked WAY more about other topics than it did about actual tuberculosis.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Riann

    I really enjoyed this book. It's fascinating how mankind's understanding of pathogens and disease has evolved throughout history. I had not known much about tuberculosis beyond the basics. The stories of TB patients were very disheartening. This book was incredibly well researched and informative. I really enjoyed this book. It's fascinating how mankind's understanding of pathogens and disease has evolved throughout history. I had not known much about tuberculosis beyond the basics. The stories of TB patients were very disheartening. This book was incredibly well researched and informative.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    First a word about my concerns with reviewing this book. Although I have read other books about disease, pandemic, and plague, this is the first where I felt a need to see what other reviewers had to say. Vidya Krishnan seems to be someone with an ax, or many axes, to grind. No one is left unscathed by her words. While I am primed to believe her, I am not well versed in her topics. This is a very deep dive into tuberculosis. It begins with some of the superstitious ways much earlier generations de First a word about my concerns with reviewing this book. Although I have read other books about disease, pandemic, and plague, this is the first where I felt a need to see what other reviewers had to say. Vidya Krishnan seems to be someone with an ax, or many axes, to grind. No one is left unscathed by her words. While I am primed to believe her, I am not well versed in her topics. This is a very deep dive into tuberculosis. It begins with some of the superstitious ways much earlier generations dealt with the disease, then moves to TB in present day India. We learn of the living conditions in crowded Indian cities and the horrible ways the government chose to address this. The crowded together towers they built for the so-called lower caste are frightening, and contributes to rampant tuberculosis. Although the caste system was legally abolished, it isvstill present with separation of the wealthy and other "better" castes who live separately - but TB reaches them as well. Beyond this is the difficulty of getting a diagnosis and a government that refuses to believe TB and Drug Resistant TB exists. The government also insists on using unsafe medications, and saves the necessary medications for some unknown future. Now, as far as the deep dive goes, Krishnan goes into the discriminatory way HIV/AIDS was handled, in charging massively high prices for the needed drugs and deciding the AIDS population in Africa would be unable to follow the instructions. With AIDS, she also faults the drug manufacturers for the high costs and the world patent agreements that favor the white, wealthy countries - in other words the colonizers of the less technological nations. Those agreements prevent research and and equitable sharing of resources. Krishnan also devotes a large section to the brutal offenses of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study to demonstrate the treatment of those we do not consider our equals. There are also long sections concerning drug resistance, dangerous side effects of some cures, and the stigma of TB. There is much more here, almost more than my mind could absorb. I still found PHANTOM PLAGUE a fascinating subject, especially with today's world of global travel, and the recent history of our current pandemic. However, Krishnan attacks everyone, the Indian government, the WHO, Big Pharma, WTO-TRIPS patent control, racism, the continuing caste system, the many countries that colonized and treated (and still treat) their former subjects with disdain. Even Bill Gates receives her disdain for his not that charitable methods of charity. In looking for professional reviews, I found that I was not able to access full reviews, but some commented about one of my concerns, too little about TB, too much about a broken patent system, but none (in what I was able to read) questioned her anger or her science. I recommend reading this for our continuing terrible treatment of those we do not value, the threat TB still holds in our world, continuing issues with the pharmaceutical industry, and the need to make the patent system less of a roadblock to innovation - especially in the medical field.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Starts with the history of TB and medicine's inability to diagnose and prevent TB until we had the microscope and then rigorous science. But Krishnan uses the TB story to tell many more riveting stories including: - MD hubris that infected and killed many patients. A careful study by Semmelweiss in 1842 showed that births done by MDs who generally were sloppy/ignorant about cleanliness had twice the mortality rate compared to the midwives who were more careful. - interesting side story about Sir A Starts with the history of TB and medicine's inability to diagnose and prevent TB until we had the microscope and then rigorous science. But Krishnan uses the TB story to tell many more riveting stories including: - MD hubris that infected and killed many patients. A careful study by Semmelweiss in 1842 showed that births done by MDs who generally were sloppy/ignorant about cleanliness had twice the mortality rate compared to the midwives who were more careful. - interesting side story about Sir A. Doyle's medical career - took a generation to train men to quit spitting everywhere (on streetcars, sidewalks, the capitol building, etc) even after we knew TB was spread by such unsanitary behavior - how (obscene) profits drive medicine costs instead of a sense of humanity and morality - Mumbai with its high-rise slums is the epi-center of drug resistant TB ====== I found it too difficult to read the multiple chapters devoted to TB patients who suffer because of poverty, pharma profit policies, and uncaring governments.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    First, I am not that familiar with Indian names so assumed it was written by a man, pleasant surprise that it was a woman. Lots of good history and a clear trail to the present day including how the HIV epidemic led to a steep, sudden increase in TB. I also learned about drug resistant TB and how patents and drug monopolies are not set up as preservers of intellectual property, but instead about accruing cold, hard cash on the backs of people who are gravely ill/dying. Pricing drugs reasonably f First, I am not that familiar with Indian names so assumed it was written by a man, pleasant surprise that it was a woman. Lots of good history and a clear trail to the present day including how the HIV epidemic led to a steep, sudden increase in TB. I also learned about drug resistant TB and how patents and drug monopolies are not set up as preservers of intellectual property, but instead about accruing cold, hard cash on the backs of people who are gravely ill/dying. Pricing drugs reasonably for people outside the 1st world is better than giving a small number of drugs for free (which leads to rationing) and philanthropists that conduct philanthropy the same way they conducted their business to get rich is not helping. The facts in this story speak for themselves, however it was written in an over the top and sensationalistic manner that in the end was difficult to finish--from about 1/2 way in. Less is more, I immediately tune out if something is too dramatic. The drama in this story is endemic, it doesn't need to be constantly called out.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ronnie

    This is a loaded book. I had heard and read about it a month ago. I owe Leominster Public Library a great deal of thanks for being able to get this boo. The author follows the history of TB from the early days...even with Vampires and accusations of witchcraft (Hello Salem) But Salem wasn't the only place. Connecticut.England. Europe. The inability to find the cause of TB and other illnesses. Baxcterias...Viruses.....the development and finding the causes. The treatment by antibiotics. The over This is a loaded book. I had heard and read about it a month ago. I owe Leominster Public Library a great deal of thanks for being able to get this boo. The author follows the history of TB from the early days...even with Vampires and accusations of witchcraft (Hello Salem) But Salem wasn't the only place. Connecticut.England. Europe. The inability to find the cause of TB and other illnesses. Baxcterias...Viruses.....the development and finding the causes. The treatment by antibiotics. The over use of antibiotics . The hoarding of needed meds by companies . Parceling out med to people. Containing diseases versus curing them. The deciding by companies who gets what. The term is collateral damage but she doesn't say that. As an RN this is an electrifying book speaks to any and alll health-care professional. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. It is a blistering indictment of how the supply chain of medicine is rigged. Read it . Read it. Read it. Read it Read it....

  20. 5 out of 5

    P D

    4.5 stars An unflinching and necessary look at TB from a policy perspective. I have to admit I wasn't as invested in the opening, but that's because I was familiar with most of it already. There were some interesting bits about Dracula I hadn't picked up on. Where I found this book most valuable is when it dives into all the ways in which policy is being constructed to make the problem worse, from the Gates Foundation's domination of the WHO effectively bullying them into focusing on technocratic, 4.5 stars An unflinching and necessary look at TB from a policy perspective. I have to admit I wasn't as invested in the opening, but that's because I was familiar with most of it already. There were some interesting bits about Dracula I hadn't picked up on. Where I found this book most valuable is when it dives into all the ways in which policy is being constructed to make the problem worse, from the Gates Foundation's domination of the WHO effectively bullying them into focusing on technocratic, IP-protected solutions (TBH I thought that Gates was mainly screwing up malaria, but of *course* it's more than that), to the Modi government's active denial of science and kowtowing to pharmaceutical companies as well as international trade agreements crafted specifically to protect Western IPs from competition (which, as Krishnan points out, actually hurts people in the West - without having to match prices, Big Pharma can bill through the nose).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Degenerate Chemist

    "Phantom Plague" is a brief social history of Tuberculosis. The book is split into 3 parts; a section on Western experiences with TB, a section on the current TB epidemic in India, and an exploration of the geopolitics that helped TB devastate developing nations. The focus of "Phantom Plague" is the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of TB in India. Krishnan explores how the forces of capitalism, racism,colonialism, and government incompetence have largely been responsible for creating the prob "Phantom Plague" is a brief social history of Tuberculosis. The book is split into 3 parts; a section on Western experiences with TB, a section on the current TB epidemic in India, and an exploration of the geopolitics that helped TB devastate developing nations. The focus of "Phantom Plague" is the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of TB in India. Krishnan explores how the forces of capitalism, racism,colonialism, and government incompetence have largely been responsible for creating the problems India is facing today. Krishnan's analysis is sharp and incisive. She rightly points out our global health systems are inherently broken. As mankind faces more antibiotic resistant strains of different diseases and more cases of zoonotic diseases we must change things at the systemic level.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rosa Angelone

    one of those books I wish everybody would read. The chapters sometimes feel more like essays (especially towards the end) but they are incredible. Not really focused on the nuts and bolts of how tuberculosis works but instead on how our society reacts to it. From the doctor who before Dr. Lister (of Listerine fame) figured out that washing your hands after doing an autopsy is really important but was unable to convince people to a father in India putting together a case and flying to Japan to con one of those books I wish everybody would read. The chapters sometimes feel more like essays (especially towards the end) but they are incredible. Not really focused on the nuts and bolts of how tuberculosis works but instead on how our society reacts to it. From the doctor who before Dr. Lister (of Listerine fame) figured out that washing your hands after doing an autopsy is really important but was unable to convince people to a father in India putting together a case and flying to Japan to convince people to let his daughter have some life saving medicine. This book is full of heroes and frustration. It is enraging. We need to act. IF we could suspend a patten during the Anthrax scare in the early 2000s because of our nations health we can do it for drugs that can help stop an epidemic that is only going to get worse Please read this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Palmer

    Did you think tuberculosis was a disease of the 19th century? Think again. This book is a call to action, a call to recognize that, far from being "eradicated", tuberculosis is raging and wreaking havoc AND becoming more treatment resistant in the non white, western world. In India, in particular. The author pulls no punches as she outlines the history of this terrible disease and the absolutely shameful actions on the part of current governments and the world as a whole in withholding life savi Did you think tuberculosis was a disease of the 19th century? Think again. This book is a call to action, a call to recognize that, far from being "eradicated", tuberculosis is raging and wreaking havoc AND becoming more treatment resistant in the non white, western world. In India, in particular. The author pulls no punches as she outlines the history of this terrible disease and the absolutely shameful actions on the part of current governments and the world as a whole in withholding life saving drugs from people in need. A damning look at how patent law, big pharma, big companies, big governments have created a situation that ALL OF US will have to pay for in the future. This cannot be ignored any longer. This book made me angry and ragey, but in a good way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Phantom Plague by Vidya Krishnan is a free NetGalley ebook that I had read into early March. Krishnan goes over our natural, relevant fear of becoming sick and being able to get better as throwing us into a panic, then reaching for antibiotics that sicknesses and pandemics already know how to ignore; how overtly racist and classist that medical systems can be, and how antiquated communities can think and react; miasma theory and spontaneous generation versus germ theory and pasteurization; the in Phantom Plague by Vidya Krishnan is a free NetGalley ebook that I had read into early March. Krishnan goes over our natural, relevant fear of becoming sick and being able to get better as throwing us into a panic, then reaching for antibiotics that sicknesses and pandemics already know how to ignore; how overtly racist and classist that medical systems can be, and how antiquated communities can think and react; miasma theory and spontaneous generation versus germ theory and pasteurization; the influx of TB in India, especially the poorer areas of Mumbai; as well as correctly diagnosing and treating it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mavra Ghaznavi

    Absolutely fantastic! Vidya writes with sensitivity, provides historical context and delves into the structural barriers that prevent black, brown and marginalised communities everywhere from accessing healthcare. A wonderfully well-researched book that is prescient in its thesis - capitalism, racism, science denial and patent laws will prevent diseases such as TB, HIV and COVID from being eliminated and allow such viruses and bacteria to continue plaguing us with new more dangerous variants unl Absolutely fantastic! Vidya writes with sensitivity, provides historical context and delves into the structural barriers that prevent black, brown and marginalised communities everywhere from accessing healthcare. A wonderfully well-researched book that is prescient in its thesis - capitalism, racism, science denial and patent laws will prevent diseases such as TB, HIV and COVID from being eliminated and allow such viruses and bacteria to continue plaguing us with new more dangerous variants unless we collectively dismantle the existing systems. This book is a call to action!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Big nope. After a rambling introduction mentioning COVID, Krishnan recounts the Mercy Brown incident and it being the basis for Dracula, which she mistakenly thinks is the first vampire novel. A short-time later, she states Henry VIII's third wife Jane Seymour, who died of puerperal fever, gave birth to Elizabeth, simultaneously wiping out the Elizabeth's famed mother, Anne Boleyn, as well as Jane's son, Edward VI, who by contemporary and historical sources, is said to died of tuberculosis, maki Big nope. After a rambling introduction mentioning COVID, Krishnan recounts the Mercy Brown incident and it being the basis for Dracula, which she mistakenly thinks is the first vampire novel. A short-time later, she states Henry VIII's third wife Jane Seymour, who died of puerperal fever, gave birth to Elizabeth, simultaneously wiping out the Elizabeth's famed mother, Anne Boleyn, as well as Jane's son, Edward VI, who by contemporary and historical sources, is said to died of tuberculosis, making this a very ironic mistake.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Bolt

    Misleading title: this book is not about history, nor is it entirely about tuberculosis. It's a hodgepodge of information about tuberculosis, AIDs, Tuskegee, India, building codes, Intellectual Property, and a whole host of other topics. The author writes in an elementary way: mostly discombobulated paragraphs, one-liners, occasional quotes, all haphazardly strewn together without a central message. It was a disappointing read. Misleading title: this book is not about history, nor is it entirely about tuberculosis. It's a hodgepodge of information about tuberculosis, AIDs, Tuskegee, India, building codes, Intellectual Property, and a whole host of other topics. The author writes in an elementary way: mostly discombobulated paragraphs, one-liners, occasional quotes, all haphazardly strewn together without a central message. It was a disappointing read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    are we there yet

    I liked it. I had no idea what tuberculosis was and that it was the same thing as consumption, which I think someone in The Secret Garden died of...? My main note is how the first section (which is basic European-centric history) seems separate from the rest of the book (which I really enjoyed). I kinda get why the first section can be useful, but at the same time the transition could've been smoother. I liked it. I had no idea what tuberculosis was and that it was the same thing as consumption, which I think someone in The Secret Garden died of...? My main note is how the first section (which is basic European-centric history) seems separate from the rest of the book (which I really enjoyed). I kinda get why the first section can be useful, but at the same time the transition could've been smoother.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Come for the theory that Dracula is a pandemic sci-fi (now I have to go read that), and stay for the indictment of big pharma gaming the patent system to keep black and brown patients in the developing world from accessing medicines that will save their lives from a second plague that disproportionately affects them. For the second time in less than 50 years.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cindy DavisClark

    Detailed history of the discovery of the organisms causing TB and other diseases and advancements in medicine. Then detailed discussion of the way some countries/people are not receiving the latest/proper treatment for TB. This has caused the explosion of drug resistant TB. I found this interesting but a little lengthy. Troubling information.

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