French immunology professor Gualde tackles the story of infectious disease, putting the lie to the 1967 claim from the U.S. Surgeon General that ""the time has come to close the book on infectious diseases,"" with thorough, thoughtful analysis. Providing a worldwide history of several monumental health epidemics, such as Yellow Fever, Influenza, AIDS and the plague, Gualde's emphasis is always on the human factors that have fueled them; poor sanitation, lack of knowledge, rigid tradition and extreme poverty are all vetted for their roles. He also explores the way ""new"" diseases emerge and old diseases take hold of new populations, looking at causes ecological and technological, including the widespread effects of agriculture and antibiotics. Heavily technical chapters on the science of how disease spreads may lose the general reader (""the federation of each individual's HLA repertory constitutes the super-repertory of the human group concerned""), and his epilogue, ""Man is the Epidemic,"" isn't much of a crowd-pleaser. No solutions are provided here save for continued research (""The task is difficult, and microorganisms are diabolical""), but Gualde's survey is broad, deep and carefully annotated, making this a worthwhile read for interested parties.