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Plague, Pestilence and Pandemic

Voices from History

Peter Furtado


A collection of intimate and revelatory first-hand accounts of pandemics through the ages


Humanity has always been struck by pestilence and pandemics, from the plagues of ancient Egypt to the pox that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages, to Covid-19. This intimate and revelatory collection presents first-hand accounts by doctors, artists, historians and everyday people who lived through the worst contagions humanity has faced. The blend of courage, despair, black humour, heartbreak and hope in their words holds up a mirror to our own recent experience, and acts as a powerful reminder of human endurance.


'Insightful, moving and empathetic'
BBC History Magazine

'Fascinating… Through tracing the social, political and public-health responses evoked by disease-related disasters across the globe, readers can empathise with individuals separated by centuries and oceans… resonates strongly in today’s world'

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 336 pp

Publication date: 3 March 2022

ISBN: 9780500296134

Contents List

1. Plagues of Egypt
2. Athenian plague – 5th century BC
3. Antonine Plague – 2nd century AD
4. Plague of Justinian – 6th century
5. Leprosy – 11–14th centuries
6. Black Death – 14th century
7. Sweating sickness – 15–16th centuries
8. Syphilis – 16th century
9. Cocolitztli epidemic, Mexico – 16th century
10. New World Smallpox – 16–17th century
11. Great Plague (or Marseilles plague) – 1660s
12. Russian Plague – 1770s
13. Cholera – 1850s
14. Flu – 1890s
15. Spanish flu – 1910s
16. Polio – 1911 – 1980s
17. Asian flu – 1950s
18. Hong Kong flu – 1968
19. AIDS – 1980s
20. Swine flu – 2000s
21. SARs, MERs et al. – 2010s
22. Covid-19 – 2020s
Conclusion Timeline of Catastrophes

About the Author

Peter Furtado is the former editor of History Today. His publications include the Sunday Times bestselling Histories of Nations, as well as Revolutions: How They Changed History and What They Mean Today and Great Cities Through Travellers’ Eyes.