A Worldwide History


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About the Book

In seven major cholera pandemics beginning in 1817, the “King of Terrors” has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The deadly effects of the so-called “disease of filth” spared no one, no matter their station in life—and today cholera is more prevalent than at any time throughout history. This book traces the history of the disease and the experience of those who suffered its ravages, using their own words from hundreds of newspapers and letters whenever possible. In so doing, the speculations, missteps, sidetracks and prevailing fears are emphasized. The authors describe the agonizingly slow march of progress toward discovering the causes and the treatment of symptoms. Along the way, the heroes of past and present are introduced: men and women who fought for their beliefs—at times against vitriolic and powerful opponents, including the medical authorities of their day.

About the Author(s)

S.L. Kotar of St. Louis has been writing (together with J.E. Gessler) for more than four decades, beginning with scripts for television’s Gunsmoke.

The late J.E. Gessler lived in St. Louis.

Bibliographic Details

S.L. Kotar and J.E. Gessler

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 408
Bibliographic Info: 64 photos, glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7242-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1364-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1. “Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink” 5
2. What Is Cholera? An Early Conundrum 9
3. The Immortal Sydenham 14
4. “The Cause of Pestilential Distempers” 19
5. Cholera Reaches the Pandemic Stage 28
6. The Second Cholera Pandemic: The Polish Insurrection, 1830–1831 35
7. The Second Cholera Pandemic: England and France, 1831 52
8. Sunderland: The Continuing Saga, 1831 63
9. Trials and Tribulations 71
10. England, 1832: “Who shall decide when doctors disagree?” 79
11. “From Our Correspondent—Foreign News” 89
12. Cholera in North America: “Imported by Immigrants” 97
13. The Scourge of God 110
14. “Choleraphobia” 118
15. “I do not know who is dead and who is alive” 123
16. Mowed Down by Cholera 127
17. “Times are no better, they are worse” 134
18. Windows, Potatoes and Avatars 142
19. Health and Sanitation 151
20. The Animalcular and the Fungoid Theories of Cholera 161
21. “A dose of magnesia is death” 168
22. “Cleanliness is the very vaccination of cholera” 179
23. “Our hopes that England may escape are less sanguine” 187
24. Following the Pestilence: The United States Through the 1850s 192
25. “The Grand Experiment” 199
26. The Crimean War and Beyond 209
27. The Fourth Cholera Pandemic, 1863–1879 215
28. The Water We Drink 225
29. The Fifth Cholera Pandemic, 1881–1896 235
30. The Sixth Cholera Pandemic, 1899–1947 250
31. Cholera in the World War II Era 265
32. The Seventh Cholera Pandemic: “No country is safe from cholera” 275
33. Research Conducted During the Seventh Pandemic 282
34. The Resurgence of King Cholera 289
35. From Snow to Koch to DNA: The ­Next-to-Last Chapter 299
Glossary 301
Appendix I: Cures for Cholera Throughout the Ages 317
Appendix II: Cholera Morbus Mortality Statistics in the 19th Century: The Harvest of Death 345
Chapter Notes 367
Bibliography 385
Index 393

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title
  • “Writers Kotar and Gessler have produced a fascinating history of the disease…a definitive account. Highly recommended”—Choice.