'Captain of all these men of death'

The History of Tuberculosis in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Ireland


Tuberculosis mortality in the United States and in Britain was declining in the late nineteenth century but rising in Ireland. Only in the first decade of the twentieth century did mortality from tuberculosis begin to fall and even then it remained higher in Ireland than in Britain and many other European nations throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
Why Ireland’s pattern of tuberculosis mortality was different is the subject of this book. Several controversies in the history of tuberculosis epidemics are addressed; the degree to which poverty and standard of living played a part in the tuberculosis decline, the role of public health, urbanisation and gender.
Because tuberculosis was comparatively higher in Ireland it remained a much more potent political issue well into the twentieth century and the interaction between Ireland’s politics and the question of tuberculosis is discussed.

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Greta Jones is Professor of History at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown and has written on social Darwinism, eugenics and the relationship between science and politics. She has published articles on Irish medical education and the history of birth control in Ireland and recently co-edited Medicine, Disease and the State in Ireland for cork University Press in 1999.
”Magnificently researched and documented, … clearly written, … consistent with the standards of the best journals in history and the social sciences. … amazingly costly work…”
- in: Choice, June 2002, Vol. 39 No. 10

“Greta Jones’s book is intensely well-researched and makes a valuable contribution towards understanding the true dimensions of the TB epidemic in Ireland…” 
- in: The Irish Times, 25-05-2002
“Greta Jones’s monograph is a comprehensive, important and pioneering study…”
- in: Irish Economic and Social History, 2002

“Greta Jones brings a passion to her topic. […] a substantive contribution to the historiography of tuberculosis.” 
- in: Social History of Medicine, Vol. 15, No. 3, 2002

“Her research is meticulous….”
- in: Irish Studies Review, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2003 pp.211-2

“…an important work for the social history of medicine and a major contribution to the social history of Ireland, and for the history of tuberculosis it offers more than filling a gap in the research.”
- in: ISIS, 94:4 (2003)
The Background
The Tuberculosis Epidemic in Ireland: I
The Tuberculosis Epidemic in Ireland: II
The Public Health Movement 1890–1914
The Inter-War Years
The Irish Sanatorium
The 1940s
The End of the Epidemic
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