Health and Medicine

Kyle Harper On Plagues And Covid

By Andrew Sullivan

Kyle Harper is an historian who focuses on how humanity has shaped nature, and vice versa. He’s a Professor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma and the author of several books, including The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, and his latest, Plagues Upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History. His mastery of the science is only matched by the ease of his prose. If I were to nominate a book of the year, it would be this one (alongside Jamie Kirchick’s Secret City).

You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app). For two clips of our convo — on the zombie bloodsucking fleas of the Black Death, and on how Covid doomed the careers of Trump and Boris — pop over to our YouTube page.

Other topics: the bubonic plague’s role in the fall of the Roman Empire, the Black Death, flagellants and anti-Semitism, the plague in 17th century London, the Spanish flu, the AIDS crisis, Thucydides, Camus’ La Peste, “The Roses of Eyam,” monkeypox, lab leak, and the uprising over China’s ghastly Covid policy.

Looking back to our episode with Robert Draper on GOP radicalism, a listener writes:


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