Duel Without End: Mankind’s Battle with Microbes (Hardcover)
In this panoramic and up-to-date account, we learn how the Black Death, smallpox, the 1918 influenza pandemic, and other great epidemics have not only led to enormous suffering and mass death but have also contributed to the fall of empires and changed the course of history. We also discover how new infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 emerge—and how we wage war against them.
Humanity has struck back at the microbes: antibiotics and new vaccines have saved millions of lives. But the battle with these relentless, silent enemies is far from won. We face increasing threats from new and unavoidable pandemics, antibiotic resistance, and even potential extraterrestrial microbes. Duel Without End is a fascinating journey through the long history of infection, from the dawn of life to humanity’s future exploration of deep space.
John Irons has been a translator of Norwegian and many other languages since 1987. He lives in Odense, Denmark.
"Frøland’s copiously illustrated book, while steeped in compelling historical detail, is topical, touching on COVID-19, biological warfare , and terrorism. As Frøland’s book (currently my book of the year by some margin) reminds us, it’s not a matter of if there will be another pandemic, but when."
— Fortean Times
"A sweeping account of an important subject. . . . Despite the depressing subject matter, this is a fascinating book of history and medical history, one that explores the social, economic, and even sexual context of the human race and its fight against disease."
"In Duel Without End, Frøland explores the never-ending struggle between humans and microbes in a fascinating voyage of discovery, breakthroughs, and setbacks. . . . The writing is superb, providing a wealth of detail but keeping a fast pace and a sense of humor—with pop culture references aplenty. . . . But what truly sets this book apart is that it is written not by a historian, but by a professor of medicine who specializes in infectious diseases. It brings a lifetime of medical knowledge to a history book, and creates a middle way between art and science. . . . It is informative, original, and refreshing, and the strongest argument for interdisciplinary working that I have seen."
— Get History
"This book, driven by his interest in history and backed by his medical expertise, provides a good all-round introduction to the history of infectious diseases and the many ways in which we have sought to prevent and cure them. . . . Frøland brings relevant expertise to the table thanks to his medical background. . . . A level-headed, measured approach characterizes much of the book, complemented by a healthy dose of myth-busting. . . . As usual with publications from Reaktion Books, the book is richly illustrated. . . . There is so much interesting historical material here that the book grips you in its own way. Overall then, Duel Without End is a broad, all-round introduction to the history of epidemics and pandemics that favors level-headed discussion over hyperbole."
— Inquisitive Biologist
"This highly readable and informative account will be of interest to both general readers and specialists fascinated by infectious diseases or the history of medicine. Highly recommended."
"A masterpiece on man’s battle with microbes. . . . Every page gives a wealth of new information on the history of man from the perspective of infectious diseases. If you only buy a single book this year, buy this one. It will change your view on world history for ever."
— Elin Ørjasæter
"Frøland takes us on a fascinating journey through hundreds of thousands of years, from the dawn of humanity to the exploration of space. The book contains a wealth of interesting information and historical descriptions which makes it both easy to read and thrilling. It is difficult to put it down."
— Bård Hauge
"An exciting, interesting, and thorough survey of the battle with microbes throughout our entire history . . . [written in] elegant and accessible language which is comprehensible to everyone. . . . A magnificent work."
— Håkon Sjursen, professor of infectious diseases, University of Bergen
"An excellent book on the large pandemics through history. . . . Demonstrates in a brilliant way how modern biomedical research has contributed to the battle against microbes."
— Nils Chr. Stenseth, professor of ecology and evolution, University of Oslo, and Albert Einstein Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences