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Great Stink of Paris and the Nineteenth-Century Struggle Against Filth and Germs

ISBN-10: 0801883490
ISBN-13: 9780801883491
Edition: 2007
Authors: David S. Barnes
List price: $41.00
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Description: Late in the summer of 1880, a wave of odors emanated from the sewers of Paris. As the stench lingered, outraged residents feared that the foul air would breed an epidemic. Fifteen years later -- when the City of Light was in the grips of another  More...

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Book details

List price: $41.00
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 5/17/2006
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 328
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

Late in the summer of 1880, a wave of odors emanated from the sewers of Paris. As the stench lingered, outraged residents feared that the foul air would breed an epidemic. Fifteen years later -- when the City of Light was in the grips of another Great Stink -- the landscape of health and disease had changed dramatically. Parisians held their noses and protested, but this time few feared that the odors would spread disease. Historian David Barnes examines the birth of a new microbe-centered science of public health during the 1880s and 1890s, when the germ theory of disease burst into public consciousness. Tracing a series of developments in French science, medicine, politics, and culture, Barnes reveals how the science and practice of public health changed during the heyday of the Bacteriological Revolution. Despite its many innovations, however, the new science of germs did not entirely sweep away the older "sanitarian" view of public health. The longstanding conviction that disease could be traced to filthy people, places, and substances remained strong, even as it was translated into the language of bacteriology. Ultimately, the attitudes of physicians and the French public were shaped by political struggles between republicans and the clergy, by aggressive efforts to educate and "civilize" the peasantry, and by long-term shifts in the public's ability to tolerate the odor of bodily substances. This fascinating study sheds new light on the scientific and social factors that continue to influence the public's lingering uncertainty over how disease can -- and cannot -- be spread.

"Not everything that stinks kills" : odors and germs in the streets of Paris, 1880
The sanitarians' legacy, or how health became public
Taxonomies of transmission : local etiologies and the equivocal triumph of germ theory
Putting germ theory into practice
Toward a cleaner and healthier republic
Odors and "infection," 1880 and beyond
Epilogue : the legacy of the twentieth century

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