Rats, Lice and History: A Bacteriologist's Classic History of Mankind's Epic Struggle to Conquer the Scourge of Typhus, Vol. 1

Rats, Lice and History
by Hans Zinsser

Little Brown & Company, Inc.


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Still in print after 50 years, this classic continues to upset our conception of disease as an inert agent that disables a living system. The compelling, riveting evidence is that humans alter human diseases, as they us. We have only to look at cases of sordid pestilences like syphilis and plagues in medieval times, and their mysterious recessions, for a demonstration of our part in coevolution. Seeing history through the eyes of a bacillus as viewed in this essay, makes the large seem smaller, and the small greater.

--reviewed by Kevin Kelly in Whole Earth Review, (Fall 1985).