The Politics of Disease

An American History from Columbus to Covid

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About the Book

Even a pandemic is subject to politics. Disease has always been a catalyst for change, influencing wars, the rise and fall of leaders, economics, religion, art, and, most certainly, people’s lives. Disease, as Covid demonstrates, can be politicized as well. While the pandemic that erupted in 2019 may be the most politicized in American history, it is far from the only one. Indeed, disease has afflicted the United States since the beginning, and it has been exploited by politicians, the media, and others to further their agendas. Parties have defined disease, and disease has defined political parties.
From the 16th century to the present, this work traces the interactions of disease and politics in the United States. Major pandemics, local outbreaks, and even presidential illnesses are all examined to see how political parties have seized upon their origins, spread, and treatment to promote their own ideologies. Immigration, civil rights, gender, war, economics, public health, modernization, and elections are all discussed in relation to the outbreaks. The book demonstrates how disease helped secure independence, led to the writing of the Constitution, brought America into the War of 1812 and the Spanish–American War, led to limits on immigration, kept the United States out of the League of Nations, led to women voting, produced two political parties—and more.

About the Author(s)

David R. Petriello teaches history at Caldwell University in Caldwell, New Jersey. He specializes in disease and its impact on history. He has previously written books on military history, Chinese history, and the role of disease in history.

Bibliographic Details

David R. Petriello
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: Notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9110-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4865-1
Imprint: McFarland