New Pandemics, Old PoliticsTwo Hundred Years of War on Disease and its Alternatives
New Pandemics, Old Politics
Two Hundred Years of War on Disease and its Alternatives

<i>New Pandemics, Old Politics</i> explores how the modern world adopted a martial script to deal with epidemic disease threats, and how this has failed – repeatedly. Europe first declared ‘war’ on cholera in the 19th century. It didn’t defeat the disease but it served purposes of state and empire. In 1918, influenza emerged from a real war and swept the world unchecked by either policy or medicine. Forty years ago, AIDS challenged the confidence of medical science. AIDS is still with us, but we have learned to live with it – chiefly because of community activism and emancipatory politics.

Today, public health experts and political leaders who failed to listen to them agree on one thing: that we must ‘fight’ Covid-19. There’s a consensus that we should target individual pathogens and suppress them – rather than address the reasons why our societies are so vulnerable. Arguing that this consensus is mistaken, Alex de Waal makes the case for a new democratic public health for the Anthropocene.

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  • June 2021
  • 304 pages
  • 143 x 209 mm / 6 x 8 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9781509547791
  • Paperback $22.95
  • 9781509547807
  • Open eBook $14.00
  • 9781509547814
Table of Contents

1. Following the Science, Following the Script

2. The Rage of Numbers: Cholera

3. Metamorphosis: Influenza

4. Who, Whom: HIV/AIDS

5. Imagined Unknowns: Pandemic X

6. Emancipatory Catastrophe? Covid-19


About the Author
Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a Research Professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
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"In its scope, learning, and wisdom, New Pandemics, Old Politics is nothing less than stunning. As we try to understand Covid-19 and prepare for pandemics yet to come, this deeply learned and compassionate book will remain indispensable."
Sulmaan Khan, Tufts University

"Alex de Waal brilliantly exposes a disordered and disrupted world “de-prepared” for pandemics and pleads for change. New Pandemics, Old Politics makes an urgent call to abandon the failed “war on disease” script, appealing for a new “emancipatory public health”."
Heidi J Larson, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

"Packed with relevant historical insights and challenging ideas, this book is certainly a help in understanding how such pandemics arise and what needs to be done if we are to prevent such outbreaks in the future."
Morning Star

"An extremely comprehensive, fascinating political history of previous epidemics, their metaphors and manifestations, and as such, a highly thought-provoking read in our current times."
LSE Review of Books
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