Loyola University Chicago

Department of History

Dr. Jo Hays Book Publication

Professor Emeritus Jo N. Hays recently authored a timely new reference book, Epidemics and Pandemics: From Ancient Plagues to Modern-Day Threats. ABC-CLIO, a specialty academic publisher for mass-market library reference books, published the two-volume set. Dr. Hays co-authored the books with Dr. Joseph P. Byrne, a professor of medieval and early modern European history at Belmont University. A project six years in the making, the books were fittingly released this year to help readers understand the current coronavirus pandemic by learning about its contemporary context and how epidemics and pandemics have affected world history by looking at humanity’s response to such crises. In Volume 1, Dr. Byrne covers and explains what epidemics are and how human society spread and controlled contagious diseases. In Volume 2, Dr. Hays presents examples of past epidemics and pandemics and how they left a lasting impact on history, from malaria in ancient Rome to measles outbreaks in the United States today.

The books show how people interpreted the causes of diseases, such as malign spirits, divine will, individual or group responsibility (whether intended or inadvertent), contagion, environmental corruption, or the invasion of the body by other organisms. These beliefs about cause in turn lead to the casting of spells, prayer, isolation, or stigmatization of those responsible, isolating the contagious ones, purifying the environment, or attacking the invading organisms. In his volume, Dr. Hays describes 52 epidemics and pandemics throughout world history in layman terms. He notes the context of each outbreak and reveals its significant influence on history. Each of these events’ historical backgrounds is summarized with an explanation of the disease’s biological origin and the state of scientific and medical knowledge at that point in history. He then illustrates how society responded to the outbreak and analyzes how historians have viewed the event in the historical record. Dr. Hays hopes that these volumes will help readers comprehend human disease in a larger societal context involving life and death situations.

For information about the publication and to purchase a set, please click HERE.

06 March 2021