Mosquito Empires PDF-This book explores the links among ecology, disease, and international politics in the context of the Greater Caribbean – the landscapes lying between Surinam and the Chesapeake – in the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries. Ecological changes made these landscapes especially suitable for the vector mosquitoes of yellow fever and malaria, and these diseases wrought systematic havoc among armies and would-be settlers. Because yellow fever confers immunity on survivors of the disease, and because malaria confers resistance, these diseases played partisan roles in the struggles for empire and revolution, attacking some populations more severely than others. In particular, yellow fever and malaria attacked newcomers to the region, which helped keep the Spanish Empire Spanish in the face of predatory rivals in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century, these diseases helped revolutions to succeed by decimating forces sent out from Europe to prevent them.
readsalot “I am a very eclectic reader, and knowledge of our greatest evolutionary and now (in this book) social selection effector is somehow entertaining, important, and mentally stimulating. Other good books that expand this topic; “Ecological Imperialism” by Alfred Cosby, “Missing Microbes” by Martin Blaser, “The Amoeba in the Room” by Nicholas Money, “Parasite Rex” & “A Planet of Viruses” both by Carl Zimmer and “People parasites and Plowshares” by Dickson Despommer.”
ccmann “I know the author slightly, so readers may want to take this recommendation with the proverbial grain of salt. But I thought this book was terrific — full of interesting ideas and things I didn’t know about, all written in wonderfully clear prose. This story, the product of 20 years of research, tells how malaria and yellow fever came to the Americas, and the mind-boggling stuff that happened afterward. McNeill is an exceptionally careful, understated writer, always making sure the reader knows what is documented and what is speculation, and constantly stressing that the two diseases are not the *only* cause of the events he is describing. Nevertheless, it is clear that they played a big role in matters as weighty as the creation of American slavery and the Revolutionary War and as weird as the attempt by Scotland to seize Panama and the fact that Barbados was (briefly) one of the richest places in the world. Some of the events that McNeill recounts are astounding, and as he writes the reader can detect the barest hint of his raised eyebrows. Knowing McNeill a bit was how I first heard of this book, but not why I enjoyed reading it so much.”
Gus “This book is exactly what it says it is; a detailed history of the role of yellow fever and malaria in the colonization of the Caribbean. The book is a carefully researched volume with many footnotes for anyone who might want to read further into the topic. This is a scholarly work and may not appeal to general readers, although it certainly reveals the extent to which the two diseases influenced the process of colonization in the Caribbean.”
William Page “The author does not pretend that Washington’s strategy and the timely intervention of the French fleet were not instrumental in causing Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, but he makes a pretty persuasive case that both generals’ strategies were made in the context of their awareness of the prevalance of malaria (not that either of the two knew malaria by that name or had any idea of the mechanism of disease transmission). This is just an interesting (to “Americans”, at least) coda to a very good book focused on the impact of yellow fever and malaria on fortunes of Spanish, Portugese, French, Dutch and American competitions in what the author calls the “Greater Carribean Area”.”
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