PLAGUES AND PEOPLES

McNeill's global history of infectious disease and its effect on the political destinies of men is built on a stunning analogy: the "microparasitism" of viruses and bacteria—carriers of typhoid, malaria, et al.—is intimately bound up with the "macroparasitism" of human predators, be they Chinese warlords, Roman soldiers, or Spanish conquistadors. Epidemological upheavals produce disarray in political and social structures; conversely microparasitic stability which allows for population growth and food surpluses seems to be a prerequisite of macroparasitic equilibrium. McNeill develops this thesis initially by examining the "disease pools" of ancient China, the Indian subcontinent, and the Mediterranean. Rome's decay between 200 and 600 A.D. demonstrates that when a new disease (in this case smallpox and measles) strikes a previously unexposed population, catastrophic die-offs occur. Much later, the age of oceanic exploration (1450-1550) brought similar cataclysms to Mexico and Peru where the native Amerindian populations (who had no immunity to Eurasia's "common childhood diseases") died off by the millions. Nothing escapes McNeill's reckoning: the Hindu caste system; the impetus epidemics gave to early Christianity which stressed the evanescence of human life and—no small matter—the nursing and care of the sick; the lethal blow which the advent of the bubonic plague in 14th-century Europe dealt to the rational theology of Acquinas; the "disease barrier" which until the 19th century kept the technologically advanced "macroparasites" of European imperialism from effective penetration of Africa. To be sure the scanty and often indecipherable medical writings of the ancient world force McNeill to rely on a great deal of speculation, deduction, and even guesswork. The book will provoke arguments from countless specialists. No matter. Plagues and People, a glorious successor to The Rise of the West, integrates ecology and demography with politics and culture on a vast scale. A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging scholarly achievement.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1976

ISBN: 0385121229

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1976

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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