Plague-Busters!: Medicine’s Battles with History’s Deadliest Diseases
Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris
Illustrated by Adrian Teal
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published October 10, 2023
Smallpox! Rabies! Black Death! Throughout history humankind has been plagued by . . . well, by plagues. The symptoms of these diseases were gruesome-but the remedies were even worse.
Get to know the ickiest illnesses that have infected humans and affected civilizations through the ages. Each chapter explores the story of a disease, including the scary symptoms, kooky cures, and brilliant breakthroughs that it spawned. Medical historian and bestselling author Lindsey Fitzharris lays out the facts with her trademark wit, and Adrian Teal adds humor with cartoons and caricatures drawn in pitch black and blood red. Diseases covered in this book include bubonic plague, smallpox, rabies, tuberculosis, cholera, and scurvy.
Thanks to centuries of sickness and a host of history’s most determined plague-busters, this riveting book features everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the world’s deadliest diseases.
This book is filled with deeply fascinating information. From stories about the history of medical treatments for various illnesses to the development of hospitals and sanitary conditions, the text introduces readers to so many ways the medical field has changed. And some ways in which it’s still the same. We continually discover new treatments and uncover problems with previously established methods. We also continue to encounter new diseases.
I loved learning about the different medical issues represented in the book. From cholera to rabies, the plague, and smallpox, the book takes a close look at several diseases that had a huge impact on human history.
I was surprised that the book didn’t cover the influenza pandemic of 1918, which reportedly killed between 50 and 100 million people. It also didn’t mention the AIDS virus, which continues to have a huge impact on our population and has had a lot of medical breakthroughs since the disease was first discovered.
All in all, though, I enjoyed the upbeat tone and clear way the information in the book was presented. It made me think about a lot of things, and I think young readers interested in medical history and the history of diseases will find this book to be a deeply fascinating introduction to several major illnesses.
Recommended for Ages 10 up.
The text primarily focuses on pandemics and plagues in Europe, though other places are mentioned. Most of the medical professionals mentioned, or advancements covered are from Europe.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
One reference to a swear word, all but the first and last letter replaced with symbols. It’s from a quote of Doc Holliday’s last words.
References to churches and church leaders impacted by illnesses. Sometimes, church members gathered to repent in hopes of ending the outbreak of disease they believed was God’s judgment against their sins. References to monks caring for the sick.
Lots of descriptions of disease and fatalities due to disease. In one chapter, medical students arrange for the death of a doctor who tried to enforce a new policy requiring them to wash their hands before encountering pregnant patients.
Some of the early “treatments” for different illnesses we now know are poisonous (like mercury) or highly addictive (such as opiates).
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of PLAGUE-BUSTERS! in exchange for my honest review.
Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays
I’m sharing this post as a part of a weekly round-up of middle grade posts called Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays. Check out other blogs posting about middle-grade books today on Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays at Always in the Middle with Greg Pattridge.