Skip to main content

New book by Dr Jonathan Kennedy is BBC Radio 4’s Book Of The Week

Pathogenesis: How Germs Made History, a new book that explores the role of germs in shaping humanity, will be serialised and broadcast each weekday morning on BBC Radio 4 at 9.45am from today (Monday 29th May).

Published on:

In his book, Dr Kennedy, Reader in Politics and Global Health at Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute of Population Health (WIPH), explores how pathogens have been the protagonists in many of the most important social, political and economic transformations in history. These include the demise of the great empires of Antiquity, the transformations of Christianity and Islam, the devastation wrought by European colonialism in the Americas and Africa, and the creation of the modern welfare state.

Dr Kennedy issues a warning that pathogens are not done with us yet. He told the BBC:

“We’re living in a golden age for microbes. Population densities are increasing, people are moving more quickly around the world, the climate is changing. We’ve seen the emergence not just of Covid, but of HIV/Aids, Zika, Sars and Ebola. It seems now that we won’t be able to conquer infectious diseases. Rather, by working together globally, we’re going to have to learn to deal with the new diseases that periodically arrive to threaten us.”

Dr Kennedy is the co-Deputy Director of the WIPH’s Centre for Public Health & Policy. His interdisciplinary research uses insights from sociology, political economy, anthropology and international relations to analyse public health issues. For example, he has explored the link between populist politics and vaccine hesitancy in Europe, the negative impact of the CIA drone strikes on polio eradication efforts in Pakistan, and how Saudi-led bombing of Yemen resulted in the world’s worst cholera outbreak in 2017.

Pathogenesis: How Germs Made History, is published by Penguin.

Listen to Pathogenesis on BBC Sounds.

Back to top