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Gospel of Germs : Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life

Gospel of Germs : Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life - 98 edition

ISBN13: 978-0674357082

Cover of Gospel of Germs : Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life 98 (ISBN 978-0674357082)
ISBN13: 978-0674357082
ISBN10: 0674357086
Edition: 98
Copyright: 1998
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Published: 1998
International: No

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Gospel of Germs : Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life - 98 edition

ISBN13: 978-0674357082

Nancy Tomes

ISBN13: 978-0674357082
ISBN10: 0674357086
Edition: 98
Copyright: 1998
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Published: 1998
International: No
Summary

2001 Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize sponsored by the History of Science Society

2002 Welch Medal sponsored by the American Association for the History of Medicine, Inc.

AIDS. Ebola. "Killer microbes." All around us the alarms are going off, warning of the danger of new, deadly diseases. And yet, as Nancy Tomes reminds us in her absorbing book, this is really nothing new. A remarkable work of medical and cultural history, The Gospel of Germs takes us back to the first great "germ panic" in American history, which peaked in the early 1900s, to explore the origins of our modern disease consciousness.

Little more than a hundred years ago, ordinary Americans had no idea that many deadly ailments were the work of microorganisms, let alone that their own behavior spread such diseases. The Gospel of Germs shows how the revolutionary findings of late nineteenth-century bacteriology made their way from the laboratory to the lavatory and kitchen, with public health reformers spreading the word and women taking up the battle on the domestic front. Drawing on a wealth of advice books, patent applications, advertisements, and oral histories, Tomes traces the new awareness of the microbe as it radiated outward from middle-class homes into the world of American business and crossed the lines of class, gender, ethnicity, and race.

Just as we take some of the weapons in this germ war for granted--fixtures as familiar as the white porcelain toilet, the window screen, the refrigerator, and the vacuum cleaner--so we rarely think of the drastic measures deployed against disease in the dangerous old days before antibiotics. But, as Tomes notes, many of the hygiene rules first popularized in those days remain the foundation of infectious disease control today. Her work offers a timely look into the history of our long-standing obsession with germs, its impact on twentieth-century culture and society, and its troubling new relevance to our own lives.

Author Bio

Tomes, Nancy : State University of New York at Stony Brook

Nancy Tomes is Professor of History, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the author of The Art of Asylum-Keeping: Thomas Story Kirkbride and the Origins of American Psychiatry.

Table of Contents

Preface: Memories of Disease Past
Introduction: The Gospel of Germs

Part I: The Gospel Emergent, 1870-1890
Apostles of the Germ
Whited Sepulchers
Entrepreneurs of the Germ

Part II: The Gospel Triumphant, 1890-1920
Disciples of the Laboratory
Tuberculosis Religion
The Domestication of the Germ

Part III: The Gospel in Practice, 1900-1930
Antisepticonscious America
The Wages of Dirt Were Death
The Two-Edged Sword

Part IV: The Gospel in Retreat
The Waning of Enthusiasm

Epilogue: The Gospel of Germs in the Age of AIDS
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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