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Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and…
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Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them (originale 2017; edizione 2017)

di Jennifer Wright (Autore), Gabra Zackman (Narratore), Inc. Blackstone Audio (Publisher)

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
3274759,027 (3.97)24
"A witty, irreverent tour of history's worst plagues--from the Antonine Plague to leprosy to polio--and a celebration of the heroes who fought them. In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn't stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon 34 more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-seventeenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome--a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis, for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary. Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to these outbreaks are, in hindsight, almost too strange to believe. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we've suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selflessly fought to ease the suffering of their fellow man. With her signature mix of in-depth research and storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history's most gripping and deadly outbreaks and ultimately looks at the surprising ways they've shaped history and humanity for almost as long as anyone can remember."--… (altro)
Utente:grandpahobo
Titolo:Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Autori:Jennifer Wright (Autore)
Altri autori:Gabra Zackman (Narratore), Inc. Blackstone Audio (Publisher)
Info:Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2017)
Collezioni:from Library, Finished in 2021
Voto:****
Etichette:Nessuno

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Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them di Jennifer Wright (2017)

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The author takes a subject that you would expect to be depressing and makes it both entertaining and informative. You will still be disturbed by the massive suffering caused by these plagues, but you will be entertained as well.

It is also amazing to read the chapter about the spanish flu pandemic. Its as if the current U.S. government treated the response to that pandemic as a how-to guide rather than something that was a massive failure. ( )
  grandpahobo | Jan 14, 2021 |
Reading about plagues in the middle of a plague seems like a sure-fire way to get very anxious. However, Jennifer Wright's writing--sarcastic, funny and engaging--really was comforting. The way she treats people with dignity is wonderful.
First, reminding yourself that people in the past literally had it WAY worse than you in so many different ways.
Second, realizing that people in the past had WAY worse leadership that basically condemned people to death all the time.
Third, reminding yourself that some of these diseases don't exist anymore due to the genuinely heroic actions of really unlikely people.
Fourth, realizing that people in the past benefited from incredible leadership that mitigated the spread of disease and protected their community.

Also, it's really funny for a book mostly about death. The introduction and the chapter on the Spanish flu are really eerie in a "Did she know 3 years from publishing date we would have COVID?" But then again, all historians realize that human nature is well, human and we tend to make the same mistakes and experience much of the same things over and over.

I really do recommend this as a comfort read because it gives you hope as well as historical and medical background in a time when people are believing really crazy things because they're afraid. It's good to be reminded that is normal but not inevitable. ( )
  RachellErnst | Jan 5, 2021 |
This is an entertainment-biased (vs. science-biased) introduction to various historical plagues, with more social commentary than you'd normally find in a science book. It was quite entertaining, fairly informative about things where I'd never researched before, and well written. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
Part of a subgenre of books that are roughly 50 percent facts and 50 percent jokes, give or take 10 or 20 percent. Wright summarizes the history of a number of major diseases with a breezy, humorous (albeit often morbidly so) tone. This isn't a deep, rigorous work of medical nonfiction like, say, [b:The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer|7170627|The Emperor of All Maladies A Biography of Cancer|Siddhartha Mukherjee|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1280771091l/7170627._SY75_.jpg|7580942], but even for an informed reader it's full of lots of interesting information, like the fact that famed prognosticator Nostradamus achieved actual success in his day job, a plague doctor, through such radical treatments as "burning the clothes of people who just died of plague"; even the magic pills he sold were mostly Vitamin C. A quick, enjoyable read, at least if you're not hypochondriac, but also informative. ( )
  dhmontgomery | Dec 13, 2020 |
Jennifer Wright explores thirteen (Coincidence? I think not.) plagues and they ways in which they were (mis?)handled with wry wit astute observations. Chapters include the Antonine, Bubonic (Black), and Dancing plagues; smallpox; syphilis; tuberculosis; cholera; leprosy; typhoid; Spanish flu; Encephalitis lethargica; lobotomies; and polio. Published in 2017, the book also contains almost prescient predictions about future plagues.

I was pretty stressed out when the current pandemic started and spent way too much time doomscrolling on social media and on the phone with my parents telling them not to leave their house for anything. When you’ve lived within a 30-minute drive of your parents for 41 years and suddenly find yourself on the opposite coast from them when a pandemic starts, you get more than a little worried. I did anyway.

So when one of my high school classmates–a librarian, author, and occasional book blogger–suggested that I read Get Well Soon, I don’t know why I listened. Don’t get me wrong; Jessica makes excellent book recommendations. But doesn’t reading about plagues in the middle of a pandemic when you’re already stressed out sound like a bad idea? But Jessica assured me that it was funny and interesting so I downloaded it from the library. She actually recommended the audiobook but I don’t absorb nonfiction very well when I listen to it, so e-book it was.

This book fascinated me from the moment I started reading. I made heavy use of the highlight function on my Kindle, highlighting 53 passages. 53! I would like to share them all here but I believe that would get me in trouble for copyright infringement.

This book about plagues was somehow hilarious! I’ve worked healthcare for decades though and I can have quite a sense of gallows humor. Anyway, in discussing cholera, I believe, she writes,

“And then there was the livestock that people kept inside their houses. We’re not talking about livestock in the sense of ‘a few people had some chickens.’ We’re talking cows in the attics. They’d be levered up by pulley and kept in the attic as long as they had milk to give. (If I had such a cow, I would name her Bertha Mason.)”

And then there’s

“If you were as bony as someone with consumption, you must have been depriving yourself in this world to feast with Jesus in the next.”

Or this little nugget

“Whenever someone casually refers to ‘the history of civilization’ in a way that does not jibe with the history of civilization as I extensively, constantly, read about it, I like to research their favorite books to see where they are getting their information. In most of these cases all their favorite books have titles like Christmas, Guns, and Integrity.”

I found the history of the book fascinating as well. Wright asserts that there’s some proof that the Antonine plague had more to do with the fall of Rome than the encroachment of Germanic tribes did. The “Spanish flu” pandemic in 1918 most likely started in Kansas. WWI laws regulating the press kept most North American and European countries from reporting on this disease that was killing healthy, young soldiers left and right. But Spain was neutral in WWI so their journalists were the first to widely report on the pandemic. This wrongly led the public to believe that it originated there. I also didn’t realize that some young women actively tried to catch tuberculosis because it tended to make them beautiful as they wasted away and slowly suffocated. This is just the tip of the historical iceberg.

Parts of the book were infuriating and/or maddening. I’m not quite sure how lobotomies made it into a book about plagues (Maybe it should be called the “Walter Freeman II Plague”), but this chapter in particular made me furious.

“Mentally ill women were generally institutionalized by their husbands or fathers—without consent required—and, until the 1960s, doctors were not obliged to reveal their treatments or risks to the patients. ‘I usually asked the family to provide the patient with sunglasses [for their black eyes postoperation] rather than explanations,’ Freeman joked. Somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of lobotomies were performed on women, despite a greater percentage of men being institutionalized.”

Wright also shows that human behavior really doesn’t change. We don’t remember history very well and we definitely don’t learn from it.

“[When] plagues erupt, some people behave amazingly well. They minimize the level of death and destruction around them. They are kind. They are courageous. They showcase the best of our nature. Other people behave like superstitious lunatics and add to the death toll.”

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

“During crises like the Antonine plague, being a problem solver is the best thing you can be. When we are electing government officials, it is not stupid to ask yourself, ‘If a plague broke out, do I think this person could navigate the country through those times, on a spiritual level, but also on a pragmatic one? Would they be able to calmly solve one problem, and then another one, and then the next one? Or would bodies pile up in the streets?’ Certainly, it would be better than asking yourself if you would enjoy drinking a beer with them.”

If only more of us evaluated candidates this way.

But the subtitle of the book is History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them. (emphasis added). So that was the part that ultimately spoke most to me and my COVID-rattled spirit. In each chapter, the author outlines the disease, the idiotic things people did in efforts to combat or ignore it, and then she gives us a hero who helped mitigate the death toll or someone who stepped up just to ease someone else’s suffering.

“He may not have found a cure—because not everyone’s role is ‘being a doctor’—but his bravery raised awareness and inspired others to work for one. Not all of us can be expected to live up to Damien’s legacy, and not everyone needs to. There are lots of ways to help people on a smaller scale and without endangering your own health. But Damien is a reminder that you don’t have to be a genius or a brilliant scientist or a doctor to help in this war against disease: you just have to be someone who gives a damn about your fellow man.”

This obviously isn’t going to be for every reader, especially given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you like quirky science books with funny, incisive observations, this is the book for you. I have a feeling it’s going to make it into my top ten books of the year. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Nov 18, 2020 |
There’s no question that Wright has covered a lot of medical territory with good information; if only she had curbed her enthusiasm to pontificate.
aggiunto da g33kgrrl | modificaKirkus Reivews (Dec 19, 2016)
 
Wright (It Ended Badly) adopts a lighthearted approach—with mixed results—to delivering sociologically oriented descriptions of history’s greatest epidemics, including bubonic plague, smallpox, typhoid, and polio.
aggiunto da g33kgrrl | modificaPublishers Weekly (Dec 19, 2016)
 
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"A witty, irreverent tour of history's worst plagues--from the Antonine Plague to leprosy to polio--and a celebration of the heroes who fought them. In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn't stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon 34 more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-seventeenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome--a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis, for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary. Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to these outbreaks are, in hindsight, almost too strange to believe. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we've suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selflessly fought to ease the suffering of their fellow man. With her signature mix of in-depth research and storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history's most gripping and deadly outbreaks and ultimately looks at the surprising ways they've shaped history and humanity for almost as long as anyone can remember."--

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