cover image Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the ""Immigrant Menace""

Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the ""Immigrant Menace""

Alan M. Kraut / Author Basic Books $25 (369p) ISBN 978-0-465-0

In this broadly researched study of the relation of immigration to medical care, Kraut ( Huddled Masses ) argues that immigrants were not themselves primarily responsible for spreading epidemic diseases. Rather, he cites the need for cheap labor, often subject to abysmal living and hazardous working conditions, as the main factor and argues that immigrants were the victims of this demand. However, Kraut notes, immigrants' health needs gradually led to the growth of independent, ethnically and religiously supported medical resources and schools to provide nurses, free lunches and playgrounds. As in the past, he concludes, the ``double helix'' of American concern for health coupled with the fear of new arrivals as carriers of diseases, ranging from cholera to TB, continues to limit immigration, as in the case of Haitians unjustly accused, he maintains, of being major AIDS propagators. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)