Discovering Tuberculosis


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A Global History, 1900 to the Present

Christian W. McMillen

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Tuberculosis is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, killing nearly two million people every year—more now than at any other time in history. While the developed world has nearly forgotten about TB, it continues to wreak havoc across much of the globe. In this interdisciplinary study of global efforts to control TB, Christian McMillen examines the disease’s remarkable staying power by offering a probing look at key locations, developments, ideas, and medical successes and failures since 1900. He explores TB and race in east Africa, in South Africa, and on Native American reservations in the first half of the twentieth century, investigates the unsuccessful search for a vaccine, uncovers the origins of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Kenya and elsewhere in the decades following World War II, and details the tragic story of the resurgence of TB in the era of HIV/AIDS. Discovering Tuberculosis explains why controlling TB has been, and continues to be, so difficult.

Christian W. McMillen is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Making Indian Law: The Hualapai Land Case and the Birth of Ethnohistory. He lives in Charlottesville, VA.

Discovering Tuberculosis provides a deep historical account of why tuberculosis remains a major threat to global health, despite more than seventy years of efforts. Taking readers from Kenya to the ‘expert committees’ in Geneva, this book shows how economic dogma trumped science in shaping global health policy in the twentieth century.”—Salmaan Keshavjee, author of Blind Spot: How Neoliberalism Infiltrated Global Health

“McMillen’s impressive global history of TB shows why it is essential that TB workers and policymakers understand the histories of past control efforts and the local settings and political contingencies that shaped them.”—Randall Packard, author of White Plague, Black Labor: Tuberculosis and the Political Economy of Health and Disease in South Africa

“Once seen as a disease of the past, tuberculosis is making a frightening revival. McMillen crosses geographical, temporal, and disciplinary boundaries in this transnational history of global eradication efforts. Discovering Tuberculosis eloquently and disturbingly explains how and why TB remains such a durable scourge today.”—Matthew Klingle, Bowdoin College

“Based on an impressive reading of the medical literature and some rich archival collections, this book does much with the history of tuberculosis into the early 2000s, with a focus on global TB policy that will be quite useful for the many people interested and involved today in TB control.”—David S. Jones, author of Rationalizing Epidemics: Meanings and Uses of American Indian Mortality since 1600

“Despite breakthroughs, our attempt to rein in tuberculosis continues to include setbacks, frustration, and failure. McMillen’s important study shows why.”—Booklist

“Readers . . . will learn a great deal from this fascinating look at an old disease that is still very much with us.”—Library Journal

“This is a thought-provoking book that will stimulate debate on many topics, not least the value of medical history research in helping to formulate future health policy.”—Clare Leeming-Latham, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

“[McMillen writes] with commanding knowledge and compassionate insight. . . . [Discovering Tuberculosis] should be read by anyone who has an interest in the history of medical interventions, public health, and global health.”—Margaret Jones, Journal of the History of Medicine
ISBN: 9780300190298
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
352 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
4 b/w illus.
Making Indian Law

The Hualapai Land Case and the Birth of Ethnohistory

Christian W. McMillen

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